LONDON — A Frenchman who threw an ashtray and hit a young woman outside a Paris cafe after she confronted him for catcalling her has been fined and sentenced to six months in jail.
The man, identified only as Firas M., 25, was found guilty on Thursday of “aggravated violence with an object used as a weapon.” He will face another six months in prison if he reoffends within the next three years, a French court ruled.
He was also ordered to pay 2,000 euros, about $2,300, to the victim, Marie Laguerre, a 22-year-old engineering student, and forbidden from contacting her.
Video footage of the encounter in July, which was posted on social media, was watched by millions around the world.
According to Ms. Laguerre’s account on Facebook of the confrontation, she was subjected to “dirty language” used “in a humiliating and provocative manner” by her attacker.
Although the assault had been shared widely as an extreme case of sexual harassment, prosecutors said there were insufficient grounds to charge him with that offense.
In the surveillance footage, he can be seen picking up an ashtray from a nearby cafe’s table and throwing it in the direction of Ms. Laguerre, before walking over to speak to her face to face. After a heated exchange, he hit her so hard that she struggled to remain upright.
The Parisian court also ordered that the man, who was homeless and had already served time in prison for violence against his mother and for pimping, undergo psychological treatment and attend a course on sexual violence awareness.
Ms. Laguerre had described to the French newspaper Libération her disappointment that her attacker would not be tried for sexual harassment as a “harsh blow.”
After the ruling, however, she told Agence France-Presse that she welcomed the “balanced” sentence.
“What brings me the most satisfaction is the obligation to complete this course,” she said.
A little more than a week after the encounter in July, the French government passed a law against verbal sexual harassment. On-the-spot fines of up to €750 can be issued in cases of street harassment, including disrespectful comments on a woman’s looks or clothing, catcalling, intrusive questions, unwanted following and “upskirting” — surreptitiously taking photos under a person’s skirt — according to the legislation.
The new law has already been put to use: A man who made lewd comments to a woman on a bus in a Parisian suburb was fined €300 last month.
“Unfortunately for us, the offense of verbal sexual harassment did not exist at the time when Marie was assaulted,” Ms. Laguerre’s lawyer, Noémie Saidi-Cottier, told Libération.
Follow Anna Schaverien on Twitter: @annaschav.
Palko Karasz contributed reporting.