French minister refuses to stand down over rape allegations

A member of Francia’s newly installed government who has faced accusations of rape has strongly denied the allegations and insisted he will not stand down.

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

Abad, who was named as a member of [object Window]’s new government on Friday, suffers from a disorder called arthrogryposis that affects his limbs, and which he said makes him incapable of sexual assault.

“I contest with the greatest force the accusations against me. All the sexual relations I have had in my life have always been consenting. These accusations are deeply wounding for me and my entourage,” he said on Monday.

“I’ve always avoided making an issue of my disability. I am forced to do it now to defend myself and even talk about intimate matters in detail to explain that the acts I am accused of were materially impossible. My dignity and integrity have been attacked.

“I repeat strongly, I have never raped a single woman in my life. To address these subjects in public is extremely painful for me so now I am going to concentrate on my job as a minister.”

Asked if he would stand down, Abad added: “Should an innocent man resign? I don’t believe so.”

The accusations were published by the investigative website Mediapart. One of the women said she had gone for 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, reportedly unknown to the first, said she spent an evening with him in 2011 and had initially consented to having sex but then asked him to stop, which she said he failed to do.

She first went to police in 2012 but said she was unable to complete the formal complaint that was finally lodged in 2017. The investigation was later closed, with detectives citing a lack of evidence.

France’s new prime minister, Elisabetta Borne, said she was not aware 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 speak freely," lei disse.

Borne added that her government would bear the consequences of appointing Abad, “if there are new elements and a new case is opened”.

Nel 2020, France’s hardline interior minister, Gérald Darmanin was questioned by investigators over allegations of rape, sexual harassment and abuse of trust.

Al tempo, Darmanin, who was reappointed on Friday, told AFP he had spoken to the magistrates “at his own 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 has brought a defamation lawsuit against the woman.

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