French minister refuses to back down from rape allegations | France

A newly appointed member of the French government who faced rape charges strongly denied the allegations and insisted he would not resign.

Damien Abad, 42, appointed minister for solidarity and the disabled, was forced to make a statement after two women accused him of rape in 2010 and 2011.

Abad, who was appointed to Emmanuel Macron’s new government on Friday, suffers from a condition called arthrogryposis which affects his limbs and which he says renders him incapable of sexual assault.

“I strongly contest the charges against me. All the sex I’ve had in my life has always been consensual. These accusations are deeply hurtful to me and those around me,” he said on Monday.

“I have always avoided making my disability a problem. I have to do it now to defend myself and even to talk about private matters in detail to explain that the acts of which I am accused were materially impossible. My dignity and my integrity have been attacked.

“I repeat forcefully, I have never raped a single woman in my life. Bringing up these topics in public is extremely painful for me so now I will focus on my work as a minister.

When asked if he would step down, Abad added: “Should an innocent person step down? I do not believe that.

The charges were published by the investigative site Mediapart. One of the women said she went to dinner with Abad in October 2010, drank a glass of champagne and woke up in a hotel room in her underwear with Abad.

A second woman, apparently unknown to the first, said she had a night out with him in 2011 and initially consented to sex but then asked him to stop, which she said he didn’t. had not done.

She first surrendered to police in 2012 but said she was unable to complete the formal complaint which was eventually filed in 2017. The investigation was later closed, with detectives claiming there was a lack of evidence.

France’s new prime minister, Elisabeth Borne, said she was unaware of the allegations when Abad was appointed.

“I will be very clear: on all these subjects of harassment, sexual assault, there can be no impunity and we must continue to act so that women who may be victims of assault and harassment can express freely,” Borne said.

Borne added that his government would bear the consequences of Abad’s appointment, “if there are new elements and a new file is opened”.

In 2020, French Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin was questioned by investigators over allegations of rape, sexual harassment and breach of trust.

At the time, Darmanin, reappointed on Friday, told AFP that he had addressed the magistrates “at his request”. A woman had accused Darmanin of raping her in 2009 – he has always strongly denied any wrongdoing and insisted the sex was consensual. He sued the woman for defamation.

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