French Doctor Olivier Larroque Convicted of Raping Vietnamese Boys Continues to Evade Justice
Hanoi’s Hoàn Kiếm Lake was where the French doctor Olivier Larroque first approached Long, who was 14 years old when he was sexually assaulted. Larroque is at large after being found guilty in November of raping dozens of children. Photo: Tim Clayton/Corbis via Getty Images

How a French Doctor Convicted of Raping Dozens of Vietnamese Boys Continues to Evade Justice

“This man is dangerous,” a survivor said of the doctor, expressing fear that he could be back in Vietnam to seek revenge or look for new victims.

This story contains accounts of physical and sexual abuse, including rape.

PARIS—Life as a 14-year-old street child in Vietnam for Long was already bleak.

Long, a pseudonym used for his protection, became an orphan at the age of eight. His father died when he was four, then his mother passed away four years later. He had left his village in the mountains of northern Vietnam to travel to the capital Hanoi where he could escape the wrath of his abusive caretaker aunt. 


Often, his only meal of the day came from discarded fresh coconuts that he would dig from the garbage so he could eat the flesh. At other times, he would lift a few coins from temple donations to buy himself bread, or play video games at an internet cafe—his one and only pleasure.

But after meeting Olivier Larroque in 2013, his life took an even darker turn. Now 24, Long was one of many impoverished, underage Vietnamese street boys whom Larroque lured with the promise of food and money before raping them. 

As a young boy, he was stupefied by the rape.

“I never knew that something like this can happen in the world, where men make love with men, that this even existed,” Long told VICE World News of his thinking at the time.

Using his position of power as a doctor at a local hospital, Larroque raped dozens of boys between the ages of 13 and 15 in Hanoi from 2011 to 2013, a Paris court ruled in November. The doctor also filmed the abuse and authorities found he shared the images on the dark web.

Larroque was arrested in Hanoi in 2013 after one of the survivors managed to steal a memory card that held proof of the abuse. The survivor handed it over to local street children and anti-human trafficking charity Blue Dragon. The group sent the memory card to the French embassy in Vietnam, triggering an international investigation.

According to French court documents viewed by VICE World News, police found 69 videos and 546 photos showing child sexual abuse on the memory card involving more than 33 boys. Only nine could be identified, and seven of the survivors were minors under the age of 15.

Forensic experts also found a folder on the card titled “Confessions of a pedophile,” which contained information on how the online world of child abuse imagery operates. There was also evidence that he had erased thousands of images and videos from his laptop, and that he regularly visited child sexual abuse sites on the dark web.


Larroque was extradited back to France in 2013 in an agreement between French and Vietnamese governments following his arrest, as child protection laws in Vietnam at the time covered girls but failed to recognize boys as victims of sexual abuse. It was believed he’d face harsher penalties in France.

In November, nine years after he was first extradited back to France, Larroque, now 60, was found guilty of raping minors under the age of 15 in a Paris courtroom, and was sentenced to 20 years behind bars.

But he wasn’t in the courtroom to hear the verdict.

For a second time, Larroque had managed to slip through the French justice system by simply not showing up. The first time was in March 2022 when he failed to appear for questioning ahead of his trial on charges of sexual assault and rape of a minor. Though he was arrested in 2013, it took nine years for the case to reach the French courts, which has drawn criticism from NGOs as well as those involved in the case. An arrest warrant was issued, and he was eventually arrested in the south of France two weeks later.

What happened next, however, is what several NGOs and lawyers involved in the case have blasted as “baffling.” Despite being an apparent flight risk, a liberty and custody judge released him on judicial supervision. And then he vanished

The last time anyone has heard from the sex offender was on Oct. 5, 2022, when Larroque checked in with the police as part of the conditions of his release under judicial supervision. Now on the run, Larroque’s fugitive status is a source of anxiety for many of the survivors, and unsettling for those wishing to bring him to justice. The escape also raises questions about the competence and judgment of the French judiciary system. A zoom-out on France’s justice system reveals bigger, broader structural problems that have been criticized by both those caught within the system, and observers looking in.

“It’s a real miscarriage of justice,” Emma Day, co-founder of Child Redress International, which works with survivors of transnational sexual exploitation, told VICE World News. “It’s terrible that a high-income country would not prioritize a case like this. He also clearly posed a risk to children in France while he was out on bail,” Day said.


Larroque was held in pre-trial detention between August 2013 and February 2015, then released on a €10,000 ($10,800) bail under judicial supervision, with orders to remain in France and undergo psychological treatment. He was also suspended from working and ordered to stay away from minors. The National Order of Physicians told VICE World News that Larroque removed himself from the list of registered doctors in 2016.

November’s hearing was supposed to mark the end of a long, drawn-out, transnational saga for the survivors, who had been waiting nine years for Larroque to answer to his crimes—and to seek reparations.

During that time, the boys grew into adulthood, battling addiction, depression, loneliness, cutting and self-harm along the way. 

News of Larroque’s fugitive status has done little to assuage the survivors anxieties and suffering: They express fear he could be back in Vietnam, tracking down survivors to seek revenge, or out looking for new ones. 

Child protection groups say tens of thousands of children live on the streets of Vietnam and are threatened by sexual predators and human traffickers. Photo: Chris Humphrey/picture alliance via Getty Images

Child protection groups say tens of thousands of children live on the streets of Vietnam and are threatened by sexual predators and human traffickers. Photo: Chris Humphrey/picture alliance via Getty Images

Long was by himself at Hoàn Kiếm Lake, in the historical center of Hanoi, at night when the white foreigner, who had been circling the perimeter of the water’s edge on his bicycle, approached him and asked for a massage in exchange for money.

Larroque led him back to a small apartment and made him a bowl of instant noodles. After the boy massaged him, the doctor placed a laptop in front of him to distract him with video games, before proceeding to rape him. Long, then 14, who had come from the Vietnamese countryside and knew little of the world, said he was terrified and stunned


“I was really frightened,” Long said. 

It’s an eerily similar story for Sen, a pseudonym used for his privacy and safety, who in 2012 was also abused by Larroque. Sen’s first encounter with the doctor was violent.

After also being fed a bowl of instant noodles, Larroque began touching the 14-year-old, who didn’t understand what was happening. He panicked and tried to run away. But like Long, Sen was small for his age. Larroque pinned him down and prevented him from leaving. And though he couldn’t understand what he was saying, Sen knew that Larroque was angry and swearing in his native language.

“He was quite violent and I was worried he would kill me,” Sen, now 25, told VICE World News.

After raping him, Larroque gave the boy 100,000 VND ($4), as he did with most of his survivors, and sent him on his way.

Do Duy Vi, a co-CEO of Blue Dragon who was once a street child himself, remembers meeting some of the survivors a decade ago during his outreach walks along the lake. He would chat to them—under city bridges, in the parks, and in the streets.

It was a nightly routine: distributing meals, connecting with kids, and offering them emergency shelter. One by one, some of the survivors began to confide in Do independently, and the stories were all the same: A white man would approach them around the lake, often promising money and food, and lead them back to a hotel or his home where he would record and photograph sexual acts that ranged from forced fellatio to rape.


“When I met them, they couldn’t function well. A lot of them used drugs and did self-harm, cutting their arms,” Do told VICE World News. “They were constantly harming themselves, and wouldn’t sleep for days until they were really exhausted and tired. They were crying all the time and talking about what happened to them.”

In a statement given following his arrest in 2013, Larroque claimed that the sex acts were consensual and that the boys were sex workers. The survivors say they went back to Larroque a few more times as they were desperate for food and money.

But in his decision, the presiding judge said that contrary to Larroque’s allegations, there was no evidence that the survivors sold sex on a regular basis, and pointed out that his modus operandi was to deliberately seek out poor, desperate-looking children.

“The fact that these minors, driven by hunger, the difficulty of their existence and the need to wash, have visited Olivier Larroque several times, cannot similarly be interpreted as a deliberate desire to consent, a priori, to sexual acts, as Olivier Larroque said during the investigation,” the judge wrote in 2022.

The judge added that Larroque wielded his power and privilege as a doctor, 35 years older than the survivors, to abuse the “lost, isolated, defenseless teenagers” and use them as simple sexual objects. Furthermore, the judge said that Larroque never expressed remorse for his actions and, on the contrary, exhibited contempt and scorn for the survivors.

Larroque was extradited back to France in 2013 in an agreement between French and Vietnamese governments following his arrest, as child protection laws in Vietnam at the time covered girls but failed to recognize boys as victims of sexual abuse. Photo: Thomas Koehler/Photothek via Getty Images

Larroque was extradited back to France in 2013 in an agreement between French and Vietnamese governments following his arrest, as child protection laws in Vietnam at the time covered girls but failed to recognize boys as victims of sexual abuse. Photo: Thomas Koehler/Photothek via Getty Images

Race, privilege and power play a major role in this and other cases involving foreigners, according to Day, the co-founder of Child Redress International, who attended the closed-door court hearing in Paris. She recalls the argument made by the prosecutor, who characterized the practice of traveling sex offenders seeking out children in poorer countries as a form of neo-colonialism.

“Nationality plays a big role in this situation,” Day said. “He traveled to these countries where children are most poor and vulnerable to take advantage of his status as a rich white man.”

While the NGOs involved in the case applaud November’s ruling handing Larroque the maximum sentence of 20 years in absentia, they, along with the survivors, question why it took nine years for the case to be brought to the courts.

“The evidence was overwhelming,” said Shireen Irani of iProbono, which provides legal assistance to NGOs. “There was a lot of footage taken from Larroque’s own camera and from his hard drive, of really horrendous images of him raping the boys. It should have been fairly easy to determine that this was a case that needed to go to trial.”

For context, there were several factors that contributed to the delay. The survivors were overseas and the case required international cooperation; the accused had made a request that the case be tried in a lower court, lengthening the process, and the pandemic added up to two years to proceedings.


But France is also regularly condemned by the European Court of Human Rights for violating the right to a fair trial within a “reasonable time,” as prescribed by the European Convention of Human Rights. Proceedings that span nearly a decade are not uncommon in the country, a fact acknowledged openly by the French government on its website titled, “Is justice too slow?

An extreme example came to light recently illustrating the scope of delays and backlogs in the French judicial system, when one of the accused in a 20-year-long influence peddling and corruption case died before they could answer to the allegations. But then there’s also the questionable decision to release Larroque—who had already attempted to flee—before his hearing in November, a decision that also surprised those who work within the French justice system.

“Given the circumstances of having fled once, the seriousness of the crimes and the number of the survivors, I think many of us, including the other lawyers, were all very surprised that he was able to escape a second time,” Christopher Mesnooh, the lead lawyer who represented the survivors, told VICE World News. “It was facilitated by the fact that the judge allowed it. It shouldn’t have happened this way.”

Interview requests to the French Ministry of Justice were declined. Requests to Larroque’s lawyers went unanswered.


Ludivine Piron, a legal expert who volunteers with ECPAT France, a group combating the sexual exploitation of children, said Larroque’s escape risks sending an unwanted message to the survivors and other rapists.

“This reinforces a feeling of impunity for the perpetrators of sexual violence against children and that is all we do not want,” Piron said. “For the victims a half-hearted justice has been rendered.”

“There are cases where predators only operate overseas because they live with a sense of impunity abroad,” said ECPAT lawyer Emmanuel Daoud.  

Sen and Long are now young men in their 20s and live haunted lives.

Long, who now works at a shopping center in sales, said he deliberately avoids people because he’s terrified they’ll find out about his past. His life, he says, has become extremely lonely.

For years Sen harbored a deep fear of other people. Like other survivors, he coped with the trauma by numbing the pain with crystal meth, and was later jailed for four years on charges of drug possession. He now has a wife and two young children and wants to move forward.

“Whatever happens to him now, it can’t give me my childhood back,” Sen said. “For me, what I want most now is for him to compensate not just me, but the other [survivors], so we can take our lives back.”

Larroque was also ordered to pay damages to the survivors, but the sum was well below what lawyers proposed, Mesnooh said, who declined to reveal the compensation amount citing client confidentiality. 

Two of the nine survivors were also left off the compensation list entirely. Mesnooh says he believes it’s because two of the survivors had not sought representation.

Irani worries that nine years is more than enough time for Larroque to have dissipated, dumped or hid his assets in order to avoid paying out the compensation. He was paid $11,000 a month in his role as a gastroenterologist at the Hanoi hospital. 

For Sen, every day that Larroque is at large is another day that he and other survivors like him live in fear and distress.

“I really want this story to reach the people who can make decisions and who are in charge of this and can change this situation,” Sen said. “This man is dangerous and every day I am worried that he will come back. It’s not difficult to find us. The sooner he gets arrested, the better.”

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