Newly appointed French minister denies rape allegations

Newly appointed French minister denies rape allegations

Member of Parliament Damien Abad listens to French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe’s speech to unveil the French government’s plan to lift the country’s coronavirus lockdown, imposed to reduce the rate of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) at the National Assembly in Paris, France, on April 28th, 2020. David Niviere/Pool via REUTERS

PARIS, May 22 – Damien Abad, France’s newly appointed Minister for Solidarity and the Disabled, on Sunday strongly denied raping two women after the Mediapart website published an article based on interviews with the women published allegations.

The women cited by Saturday’s Mediapart story said Abad forced them into unwanted sexual relations with him. The actions occurred in late 2010 and early 2011, they said.

One of the women filed a complaint against Abad with the police in 2017, which was closed without further action, Abad and Mediapart said.

“I strongly deny these allegations of sexual violence,” he said in a statement sent to Reuters. “The sexual relationships I have had throughout my life have always been consensual.”

Abad said his disability, a condition called arthrogryposis that affects all four of his limbs, makes it physically impossible for him to commit the alleged crimes.

Abad joined the government formed on Friday after President Emmanuel Macron was re-elected.

When asked to comment on the allegations against Abad, Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne said she was unaware when he came into government.

“I will be very clear: there can be no impunity on all these issues, such as harassment and sexual assault, and we must continue to act to allow women who may be victims of assault and harassment to speak freely,” she said.

Borne said her government will face the consequences of Abad’s appointment “if there are new elements and a new case is opened.” She did not give any further details.

(This story is being re-archived to show the Mediapart story was released on Saturday.)

Reporting by Sybille de La Hamaide and Elizabeth Pineau; Adaptation by Frank Jack Daniel