A French senator is below investigation on accusations that he spiked the drink of a fellow lawmaker with medication this previous week with an intent to sexually assault her, the Paris prosecutor’s workplace mentioned on Saturday.
The senator, Joël Guerriau, 66, a centrist for the Loire-Atlantique area of western France, denies the fees. He is accused of attempting to drug Sandrine Josso, 48, who belongs to a special centrist occasion within the National Assembly, France’s decrease home of Parliament, and who represents the identical space as Mr. Guerriau.
The Paris prosecutor’s workplace mentioned that Mr. Guerriau was being formally investigated on costs of utilizing and possessing unlawful medication and of giving somebody a mind-altering substance with out their consent “in order to commit rape or sexual assault against them,” which is punishable by as much as 5 years in jail and a nice of 75,000 euros, or about $82,000.
Ms. Josso instructed investigators that she had left Mr. Guerriau’s residence shortly after feeling in poor health after ingesting a glass of Champagne there, and she or he has not accused him of sexually assaulting or raping her. The prosecutors haven’t defined the premise for charging that Mr. Guerriau acted with intent to commit sexual assault.
Laure Beccuau, the Paris prosecutor, instructed RTL radio on Friday that investigators suspected that the drug utilized by Mr. Guerriau was ecstasy.
Rémi-Pierre Drai, Mr. Guerriau’s lawyer, mentioned that the senator denied any wrongdoing.
“Joël Guerriau is not a predator,” Mr. Drai mentioned in an announcement. “He’s an honest, respected and respectable man who will restore his honor and that of his family, however long it takes.”
Mr. Guerriau’s small center-right occasion, Horizons, mentioned on Saturday that it was suspending him instantly and that it might begin disciplinary proceedings that would result in his expulsion from the group.
“If confirmed, these are very serious facts,” the occasion mentioned in an announcement. “Horizons will never tolerate the slightest complacency toward sexual and sexist violence.”
Mr. Guerriau was launched from police custody after questioning, however he’s barred from assembly with Ms. Josso, the prosecutor’s workplace mentioned. Under French regulation, officers didn’t want to hunt the lifting of his parliamentary immunity, as a result of he was being investigated as being caught within the act.
Mr. Guerriau and Ms. Josso haven’t commented publicly on the accusations. Although each belong to events which are allied with President Emmanuel Macron, neither is well-known nationally; nor are they key allies of the French chief.
Julia Minkowski, Ms. Josso’s lawyer, mentioned that her consumer was at Mr. Guerriau’s residence in Paris on Tuesday night when she quickly felt in poor health after ingesting Champagne that he had served her. According to Ms. Josso, Mr. Guerriau exhibited “very strange behavior” and she or he noticed him take a small plastic bag containing a white substance out of a kitchen drawer, Ms. Minkowski mentioned.
Mr. Guerriau and Ms. Josso had been longtime political buddies however weren’t in a romantic relationship, based on their legal professionals.
Mr. Guerriau, a banker who was first elected to the French Senate in 2011, is the vp of the Senate’s overseas affairs and protection committee. Ms. Josso, a nutritionist, was first elected in 2017 as a member of Mr. Macron’s occasion however later switched to a different group, the centrist MoDem, or Democratic Movement.
Ms. Josso had been on good phrases with Mr. Guerriau and had no motive to suspect his intentions, Ms. Minkowski mentioned, including that based on her consumer Mr. Guerriau had by no means made romantic or sexual advances on her up to now.
“There is a feeling of betrayal,” Ms. Minkowski mentioned.
But Mr. Drai mentioned that the day earlier than inviting Ms. Josso over to rejoice his latest re-election, Mr. Guerriau was feeling depressed and had ready a glass with an unspecified product in it for his personal consumption.
Mr. Guerriau put the glass again with out utilizing it, the lawyer mentioned, and by accident reused that tumbler to serve Ms. Josso Champagne the next day.
Mr. Drai mentioned that Mr. Guerriau had apologized to Ms. Josso for what he referred to as a “handling mistake.”
“It may sound far-fetched,” he added. “But it’s the exact truth.”
In France, legal circumstances just like the one towards Mr. Guerriau are dealt with by particular magistrates who’ve broad investigative powers and who can place defendants below formal investigation once they consider the proof factors to severe wrongdoing. The magistrates can later drop the fees if they don’t consider the proof is ample to proceed to trial.