Frédéric Mitterrand has occupied the highest reaches of cultural and political life in France. Nephew of former President François Mitterrand, Frédéric Mitterrand has not only served as Minister of Culture and Communication but also achieved success as an actor, writer, producer, director, film critic, television star and even college professor.
Born to greatness and confidante to many of France's biggest luminaries, Frédéric is a genuine renaissance man.
However, he is also a pedophile, as he openly admitted in an autobiographical novel called "La Mauvaise Vie" ("The Bad Life"), which detailed his experiences in male brothels of Bangkok, Thailand.
“I got into the habit of paying for boys ... The profusion of young, very attractive and immediately available boys put me in a state of desire I no longer needed to restrain or hide," he wrote.
“All these rituals of the market for youths, the slave market, excite me enormously. One could judge this abominable spectacle from a moral standpoint, but it pleases me beyond the reasonable.”
A best seller in 2005, the book was widely praised for its candor.
Frederic's profile (or notoriety) was raised further when he defended the American film director, Roman Polanski, who fled to exile in Europe to escape charges of having raped an underage girl in Los Angeles. At the time, Polanski was arrested by police in Switzerland at the request of U.S. officials -- the Swiss later denied the extradition request and freed him.
Despite all these revelations, Frederic somehow kept his job as culture minister until May 2012 when Nicolas Sarkozy (his friend and benefactor) lost his bid for re-election as president.
Frederic even survived the vitriol of Marine Le Pen, the firebrand leader of the extreme right-wing National Front Party, who vociferously called for his resignation, citing his predilection for sex with young boys.
During a television appearance, Le Pen even recited lascivious passages from Frederic's book.
Not to be outdone in the morality sweepstakes, the left-wing Socialists also urged his removal from government.
“As a minister of culture he has drawn attention to himself by defending a film maker, and he has written a book where he said he took advantage of sexual tourism. To say the least, I find it shocking,” said Benoit Hamon, a spokesman for the Socialist party.
For unknown reasons, Sarkozy refused to sack Frederic and shrugged off all attacks on his appointee. Sarkozy even described Frederic's book as “courageous.”
Xavier Bertrand, at the time the head of Sarkozy’s center-right UMP party, also defended Frederic. “The Socialists are now on the same ground as the extreme right, it’s incredible. One is not obliged to use private life for political ends,” he said.
In his own defense, Frederic issued some ambiguous and contradictory statements about his sexual adventures. Declaring that “The Bad Life” was not, strictly speaking, an autobiography, he claimed that he only had “consensual sex” with boys and he even denied that he engaged in pedophilia.
“If the National Front drag me through the mud then it is an honor for me,” Frederic defiantly declared in response to calls for his firing.
“If a leftist politician drags me through the mud then it is a humiliation for him.”
He also stated: "These were normal relationships. I never committed pedophilia," adding that when he said he had sex with “boys,” he actually meant “young men.”
Frederic also condemned “sexual tourism” (which involved the practice of wealthy men from western countries journeying to Third World nations like Thailand and Morocco to engage in sex acts which are illegal in their homelands).
Douglas Yates, assistant professor of political science at the American University of Paris and professor at the American Graduate School in Paris, commented that Frederic was likely never prosecuted for his alleged crimes due to a combination of selective prosecutorial discretion and the lack of an international arrest warrant, on the other.
“I do not believe that France has ‘long arm’ statutes that give its prosecutors extra-territorial jurisdiction over such crimes,” Yates stated. “It would normally be up to the prosecutors from the country where he committed these crimes to issue an arrest warrant, and then it would be up to the French authorities to cooperate (or not). I do not believe that such an arrest warrant was issued, so the matter is closed, for now.”
In stark contrast, another prominent Frenchman, the notorious Dominique Strauss-Kahn, has seen his career, future political hopes (and marriage) dashed to pieces over his repeated sexual indiscretions (albeit ones that are vastly different in nature compared with Frederic Mitterrand’s romps).
One of the most disturbing aspects of European colonialism and imperialism in Africa, the Middle East and Asia involved the sexual abuse and exploitation of young boys by European men. There exist a multitude of accounts of such episodes -- especially of the British in India and the French in North Africa (where a legal age for consent simply did not exist or was not enforced).
In a book called “Homosexuality and Colonialism,” author Robert Aldrich cites the behavior of well-known Britons and Frenchmen like T.E. Lawrence ("Lawrence of Arabia"), Henry Morton Stanley, E.M. Forster and Andre Gide, among others, who engaged in pederasty in conquered lands.
Aldrich wrote: "The visitors from the British Isle (and soon, the Frenchmen) knew that cafe waiters, flute players, and other young men were willing to provide sexual favors. A little money went a long way, and youths were abundant ... By the time Gide arrived, local ephebes [adolescent boys] had a well-developed practice of offering themselves for sex: the gestures and propositions were well-rehearsed, and they proved expert at seducing European men by approaching them, offering food, a tour or some small service.”
Gide himself documented and boasted of his sexual adventures with underage boys in his books “The Immoralist” and his autobiography “If I Die.”
As for Frederic Mitterand, as recently as September, he delivered a lecture on the importance of culture called “Culture and Civilization” at a forum in Saint-Denis. He was quoted as declaring that, given all the violence and upheavals in the world, culture may serve as a kind of “bulwark” against barbarism.
Frederic Mitterand is now 65 years old.