Two-time Paralympic wheelchair tennis champion Nicolas Peifer was given a suspended six-month prison sentence by a court in France on Monday for sexually harassing a minor aged under 15 years.
Judges followed prosecutors’ recommendations and reclassified the initial charge of “sexual proposition made to a minor under 15 by electronic means” to “sexual harassment” after a court hearing in the tennis player’s hometown of Sarreguemines in north-eastern France.
“I’m flabbergasted by this decision. We are going to appeal,” Peifer’s lawyer, Martial Gagneux, told AFP.
“I don’t see where there was harassment, except to consider that the fact of sending messages to someone, and not sending them again when you are asked, constitutes harassment.
“For me, this is a serious distortion of the law.”
During the trial in October, Gagneux denied the existence of a criminal offence, while acknowledging that his client had exchanged messages with the victim between 2016 and 2018.
Frenchman Peifer, 32, won tennis doubles at the Paralympic Games in Rio in 2016, and again in Tokyo 2020 with partner Stephane Houdet.