Little Emile’s grandfather appears as an assisted witness in a legal case targeting the traditionalist community of Riaumont (Pas-de-Calais) which he joined in the 1990s. The courts did not bring the slightest charge against him .

Eight months after the disappearance of little Emile in the town of Vernet (Alpes-de-Haute-Provence), the profile of his grandfather, responsible for looking after the child at the time of his disappearance, is attracting attention. If he was present on the day of the events in the hamlet of Haut-Vernet, it is his past which now concerns investigators. The man is cited as an “assisted witness” in an old legal case reveals Le Canard Enchaîné. If what he is accused of has no link with Emile’s disappearance, it is more what this reveals about his “personality which is of interest today” specifies a judicial source from BFMTV.

A fervent Catholic, the man became closer in the 1990s to the traditionalist community of Riaumont in Pas-de-Calais. A religious institution which consists of a traditionalist community, a children’s village open until 2019 and a scout association. Despite the loss of its approval after a report for mistreatment, some families continue to send their children to a non-contract school founded in Riaumont in the early 1990s. It delivers CAPs in carpentry or masonry. The moment chosen by little Emile’s grandfather, Philippe Vidovini, to enter the community. According to Le Canard Enchaîné, “brother Philippe” was responsible for maintaining order in the boarding school.

It was between 2014 and 2017 that everything changed about him. Several complaints have been filed by former students for mistreatment, physical violence, sexual violence and rape, against another member of the community. It was in the context of the indictment of a certain André H. for sexual assault on a minor under the age of 15 that the name of Philippe Vidovini surfaced. He is cited under the status of assisted witness indicates Le Parisien.

A priest still active in Riaumont confides to BFMTV the existence of a “history of light violence”. “Yes, there may have been disproportionate reactions from educators but this was never supported by Riaumont. We have been marinated on this for five years” he regrets. In 2018, Philippe Vidovini was heard by the Lille PJ and admitted having imposed “somewhat harsh” sanctions on certain children at the establishment. He also admitted to having “sometimes slapped, but it was not often”. However, he completely refuted the accusations against him regarding physical punishments at night and punching.

On the other hand, a former student of the establishment who agreed to testify in the columns of BFMTV gives a different speech about the grandfather of little Emile. “He was the strictest of educators. He was quite authoritarian, more so than the others. He was more stickler for discipline than the others. He gave punishments that we wouldn’t have had with others. A day, he made me wait on my knees in the corner. It touched me at the time but in the evening I no longer thought about it” he explains.

If he assures him that he has “never been confronted with that”, in this case, violence on the part of Brother Philippe, he claims to have heard testimonies in which “people saw Brother Philippe slap children “. Elements and testimonies which are, still today, analyzed by the gendarmes in charge of the investigation into the disappearance of Emile, on July 8, 2023 in Haut-Vernet.