Sex assaults of kids at Concordia language camp lead to conviction in France

  • Article by: PAUL WALSH , Star Tribune
  • Updated: March 22, 2014 - 10:16 AM

Adrien Massy

Photo: Beltrami County Sheriff’s Office,

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A Frenchman teaching his native language in St. Louis Park has been convicted in France of sexually assaulting Twin Cities boys during a 2010 field trip to the Concordia Language Villages in Bemidji.

Adrien Massy, 32, was sentenced last week in a jury trial in Angers, France, to 12 years in prison. Massy allegedly assaulted six boys and girls in Minnesota, then fled to France to avoid trial.

Four of his victims were French citizens, and two were Americans, according to Alain Frecon, French consul in Minneapolis.

Frecon, an attorney, explained that Massy was tried in France because the defendant acknowledged to authorities that he had committed similar crimes in his homeland.

Also, the diplomat continued, there is no extradition treaty between the United States and France that would have required Massy’s return to Minnesota.

“He was a fugitive of the law in the U.S., but he was not a fugitive of the law in France,” Frecon said.

Frecon said the assaults in Minnesota involved digital penetration, which in France is “tantamount to rape. The French society is so appalled by these types of events.”

Two of Massy’s victims in Minnesota were boys, ages 10 and 11, and were with Massy in late May 2010 on a field trip from the French Academy of Minnesota in St. Louis Park to the Concordia language camp, according to Beltrami County Sheriff Phil Hodapp.

Investigators from Beltrami County, St. Louis Park and Edina working on the camp assaults also learned of additional sex crimes against children in the Twin Cities area by Massy, the sheriff added.

Massy was fired from his French Academy teaching position, his visa was revoked and he fled to France, Hodapp said.

French authorities arrested Massy two years later, leading to a failed attempt by U.S. officials to have him extradited.

Upon his conviction, which was assisted by testimony from the parents of some of his Minnesota victims, “Massy apologized in court to the parents who were present,” Frecon said.

The presiding judge said at sentencing that he was not about to let an incident like this “taint the good Franco-American relationship we have enjoyed for generations,” Hodapp added.

Massy’s teaching position was arranged through an exchange program run by Amity Institute of San Diego at the request of the school in St. Louis Park.

“I don’t think there is anything that could have been done to prevent this,” Trudy Hermann, executive director at Amity Institute, said Friday.

Hermann said her institute conducted a thorough background check on Massy, which resulted in a clean report from the authorities in France. Then, Hermann added, the institute did the same in the United States.

“We did not [find anything],” Hermann said, “or else he would not have been placed.”

Hermann said the 52-year-old institute has a reputation that must remain above reproach. “It is our deep desire to vet every teacher in our program to the very best of our knowledge, so we can run a squeaky-clean program,” she said.

Veronique Liebmann, the director of the privately operated French Academy of Minnesota, said in a written statement Friday afternoon that her school cooperated fully in the case against Massy. That included her attending the trial in France and providing “a statement as an impacted party,” the statement read.

Liebmann added in a telephone interview that she was not ready to explain how Massy came to her school’s attention or what made him desirable as an instructor.

Concordia Language Villages’ programs are considered among the nation’s leading immersion curricula, with instruction offered to children and adults in more than a dozen languages. The villages are run by Concordia College of Moorhead, Minn. Along with Bemidji, Concordia also offers language immersion programs in Marine on St. Croix.

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