Ex-deputy Paris mayor questioned over rape allegations

By: AFP      Published: 06:44 PM, 5 Nov, 2020
Ex-deputy Paris mayor questioned over rape allegations

A deputy mayor of Paris who is facing an inquiry over claims he raped and abused a man several times in the 1990s was questioned by investigators Thursday, a source close to the case said.

Christophe Girard resigned in July under pressure from opposition politicians and women's groups over his ties to Gabriel Matzneff, an award-winning writer now hit by a paedophilia scandal.

A few weeks later, Girard himself was accused of abusing a minor in a New York Times report, leading prosecutors to open a preliminary rape inquiry that includes determining if the claims still fall within statutes of limitation.

The Times cited allegations by Aniss Hmaid, now 46, that Girard had sexually abused him over nearly a decade after they met in Tunisia when he was 15.

He also accused Girard of coercing him into sex on about 20 further occasions over several years. "He took advantage of my youth, of my young age and everything for his sexual pleasures," Hmaid said.

The 64-year-old Girard, who has called the claims baseless, was questioned Thursday by the Paris police brigade charged with the protection of minors, the source said.

He was the city's powerful deputy mayor in charge of culture, but before that was the conduit for money given to Matzneff from the Saint Laurent fashion house.

The essayist, who never made a secret of his preference for sex with adolescent girls and boys, is to stand trial next year on a charge of promoting paedophilia.

His downfall came after one of his victims, Vanessa Springora, ignited a huge scandal this year with her memoir "Consent," in which she described how she was groomed by Matzneff when she was 14.

Two other women have since come forward to say they too were abused by him as teenagers.

The scandal marked a turning point in the #MeToo movement in France, after decades of people turning a blind eye to the diarist's behaviour despite his frankness about his private life.