A French court has ruled a 29-year-old man who had sex with an 11-year-old girl must face rape charges, after prosecutors initially said the sex was consensual. Authorities in September charged the father-of-two with sexual abuse of a minor under 15, which carries a penalty of up to five years, instead of rape of a minor, punishable by up to 20 years.

But on Tuesday the presiding judge in Pointoise, near Paris, ruled the man faced the wrong charge, and postponed the the trial, in what the defence called “a victory for victims”. France does not have a legal age under which a minor cannot agree to a sexual relationship, although the country’s top court has ruled children aged five and under cannot consent.

Defence lawyers say the man met the girl in a park and the girl voluntarily followed him to an apartment and consented to sex. They also say their client, then 28, thought she was over 15. The girl’s family filed a complaint for rape in the town of Montmagny, but prosecutors apparently believed the suspect did not use violence or coercion. French law defines rape as sexual penetration committed “by violence, coercion, threat or surprise.”

French President Emmanuel Macron’s government has proposed a bill to introduce a minimum legal age for sexual consent for the first time, which includes a provision saying that sex with children under a certain age is by definition coercive. The proposed minimum age has not yet been decided, but the cutoff could be between 13 and 15. The bill, a broad-based measure aimed at fighting “sexual and sexist violence”, is expected to be presented to the French Cabinet next month.