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Senator ‘plots child sex scandal’ against rival

A French Senator has been caught on tape plotting to set up his rival Senator Jean-Louis Masson with an underage girl in Morocco.

In a recording obtained by his rival, senator Jean-Louis Masson, Grosdidier discusses plans to get an underage girl to have sex with Masson in a foreign country, weekly magazine Marianne reveals."That’s the only thing that's left for us to do: trick him with a minor," Senator François Grosdidier is heard telling an unnamed estate agent in Moselle in the east of France.

In the taped conversation, Grosdidier and the estate agent discuss the practicalities of setting up such a trap."Let’s go for Morocco, we’ll catch him like a rabbit," says the estate agent.

To which Grosdidier responds: "As soon at the story gets out, I’ll get in touch with the state secretary at the ministry of the interior and tell him ‘Listen, don’t protect him, he’s the worst half-assed French politician," adding that the removal of Masson would be "a thorn out of his side."

Both rightwing UMP senators Grosdidier and Masson are based in the department of Moselle and have reportedly been waging a war against each other for years.  

The conversation appears to have been taped in the company of other people. Masson says he received the tape from a local business owner who felt cheated by Grosdidier.

On tape, Grosdidier worries that Morocan policemen wouldn’t dare arrest a French senator. He speculates that they would need to rope in an MP, an charity organisation or a journalist to kick up a media storm.

The two men also discuss setting up Masson in a sex scandal in France. The estate agent says he has tried and failed to recruit someone locally.

"We’ve already discussed this, I can’t find anybody. They’re all afraid," says the man in the recording.

The tape also gives some interesting insights into local housing practices.

"I can’t do it. I’ve tried. I have loads of friends who aren’t afraid of anything," says the estate agent. "When I have a problem with a tenant, they go in, slap him around and get him out. But when I say it’s for the man, they’re afraid. They don’t want to use a minor in France. But let’s go for Morocco, we’ll catch him like a rabbit."

Asked about the tape, Grosdidier has not denied the recordings are real, but denies plotting against his rival, and insists the conversation was a "schoolboy prank".

Masson has filed a lawsuit against his rival for conspiracy, while Grosdidier has struck back with a suit for slander, manipulation and conspiracy.

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POLITICS

Newly appointed French Minister faces rape allegations

The final composition of the new French government was announced on Friday. A new investigation suggests that historic rape allegations against a newly appointed minister were ignored.

Newly appointed French Minister faces rape allegations

It didn’t take long for scandal to hit the France’s new government.

An investigation by Mediapart published the day after the final list of ministerial positions was announced revealed that two women have accused one of the appointees of rape. 

READ MORE Who’s who in France’s new government?

Damien Abad, the new Solidarity Minister denies the allegations and a police investigation into one allegation was dropped in 2017. But another could be about to open. 

Who is Damien Abad? 

Damien Abad is a 42-year-old son of a miner from Nimes in southern France who became the first handicapped MP to be elected in 2012. He has arthrogryposis, a rare condition that affects the joints.

Prior to his appointment as the Minister for Solidarity, Autonomy and Disabled People, he was the leader of the France’s right-wing Republicans party in the Assemblée nationale

What are the allegations? 

Two alleged victims, who didn’t know each other, told Mediapart that Abad raped them on separate occasions in 2010 and 2011.

The first woman described meeting Abad for dinner after having met him weeks earlier at a wedding. She said she blacked out after one glass of champagne and woke up in her underwear in a hotel bed with Abad the next morning fearing she had been drugged. 

A second woman who lodged a formal charge against Abad in 2017 said that he harassed her by text message for years. She eventually agreed to meet with him one evening. After initially consenting, she told him to stop – but her plea fell on deaf ears as Abad raped her. 

What does Abad have to say? 

The new minister denies the accusations.

“It is physically impossible for me to commit the acts described,” he told Mediapart – in reference to his disability. 

He admitted to sending “sometimes intimate” messages, but said he had “obviously never drugged anyone”. 

“I was able to have adventures, I stand by my claim that they were always consensual.”

Is he under investigation? 

The second alleged victim made a formal allegation against Abad in 2017. 

A subsequent investigation was dropped later that year after a “lack of sufficient evidence was gathered”.

Mediapart report that Abad’s entourage were not questioned by police and that the MP told investigators that he had no memory of the alleged crime. 

The first alleged victim flagged the abuse to the Observatory of Sexist and Sexual Violence in Politics – an unofficial watchdog monitoring elected bodies – earlier this month. 

The Observatory has since brought the case to the state prosecutor, but it is unclear if another investigation will be launched.  

Who knew? 

The tone deaf appointment of Gérald Darmanin as Interior Minister in 2020 was controversial because at the time he was under investigation for rape. His nomination was met with street protests in Paris and elsewhere. Feminists accused (and continue to accuse) Emmanuel Macron of not taking sexual violence seriously. 

The investigation into Darmanin’s alleged crime has since been dropped.

Some will question whether the naming of Abad shows that lessons have not been learned. 

“Once again a minister  in the government of Emmanuel Macron accused of rape,” said Caroline De Haas, the founder of the #NousToutes feminist movement. 

The Observatory sent a message warning senior party figures in the Republicans and LREM about the allegations on Monday – prior to Abad’s nomination. 

France’s new Prime Minister Élisabeth Borne denied having any knowledge of the warning. 

“I am going to be very clear on all these questions of harassment and sexual violence, there will be no impunity,” she said during a visit to Calvados. 

“If there are new elements, if the courts are summoned, we will accept the consequences.” 

READ MORE Who is Élisabeth Borne, France’s new PM?

The Observatory meanwhile claims it has been ignored. 

“Despite our alerts, Damien Abad who is accused of rape has been named in government. Thoughts and support to the victims,” it tweeted

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