Suspect Allegedly Behind Viral Paris Catcall Attack Has Been Arrested
CCTV footage caught the harasser hitting a woman outside a cafe on her walk home from work.
Screenshot via Marie Laguerre's Facebook
The man suspected of catcalling a 22-year-old woman on her way home from work, then throwing an ashtray at her and punching her in the face outside of a Paris cafe when she rebuffed his advances, has been arrested in France, BBC reports.
The July street attack went viral after the victim, Marie Laguerre, posted CCTV footage of the incident on her Facebook page last month. Laguerre is seen walking in a red dress at the top of the frame as she passes a man who looks back at her. He's then seen coming back around the side of the cafe, where he approaches Laguerre and appears to hit her in the face, sending her head into the cafe's barricade while several restaurant patrons look on, before he simply walks away.
"He addressed me with noises, sexual whistles, and other humiliating and degrading noises," Laguerre told CNN. "It put me in a rage and I told him to shut up... He actually got really mad and then he threw an ashtray at me. I insulted him and after that, he rushed back to punch me."
According to AFP, cops in Paris arrested a man who "fits the description of the suspect sought" after tracing his phone number back to a psychiatric hospital where he had been receiving treatment. French media identified the 25-year-old man as "Firas M" and described him as being violent and "capable of hitting his mother," BBC reports. Now he's being held in custody, and Laguerre will reportedly try to identify him Wednesday.
It's not clear what kind of punishment Laguerre's attacker could be facing, but the incident occurred just days before the country passed a new law on public street harassment, levying €90 to €750 ($105 to $878) fines for "degrading, humiliating, intimidating, hostile, or offensive" sexual harassment, CNN reports. It aims to leave the punishment in the hands of the law, instead of just leaving victims to deal with catcalling themselves. Since the incident, Laguerre has started up her own online forum where people can share their stories of catcalling anonymously called Nous Toutes Harcèlement, translated to "We Are All Harassed."
"He wasn't the first one that day, or that week," Laguerre told CNN. "It happens almost every day."