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(Another) French politician gets mired in a sex scandal

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(Another) French politician gets mired in a sex scandal
Photo: AFP
15:34 CEST+02:00
The world of French politics has once again been left soul searching after another politician was accused of sexually harassing members of his own party. He vehemently denies the claims.
A deputy speaker of France's parliament resigned on Monday after becoming the latest French politician to face sexual
harassment allegations, claims he vehemently denies.
 
Denis Baupin, a former member of the ecologist EELV party who is married to Housing Minister Emmanuelle Cosse, plans to sue the women for defamation, his lawyer Emmanuel Pierrat said.
 
The allegations, some of which date back 15 years, are "mendacious, defamatory and baseless," Pierrat said in a statement.
 
 
"Sexual harassment and even more so sexual aggression are totally foreign" to Baupin, who is one of parliament's six deputy speakers, he added.
 
The scandal adds to a series of sexual allegations against French politicians even after the spectacular fall from grace in May 2011 of former IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn.
 
The latest high-profile case involved Finance Minister Michel Sapin, accused in a book published in April of twanging a journalist's knickers when she bent over to pick up a pen.
 
Sapin (below) brushed off the claims as "inexact and slanderous".   
 
(Photo: AFP)
 
In May last year, dozens of female political reporters published a petition denouncing sexism on the front page of the Liberation newspaper. 
 
The journalists said they were fed up with the bawdy remarks and wandering hands of France's lecherous male politicians.
 
Parliament speaker Claude Bartolone had summoned Baupin, who is one of the parliament's six deputy speakers, earlier Monday and "asked him to resign as deputy speaker," the National Assembly said in a statement.
   
The four women made the accusations against Baupin to French media.
   
One accuser, Sandrine Rousseau, told the Mediapart website and France Inter radio that Baupin made an aggressive pass at her in October 2011 during a party meeting near Paris.
   
"At one point I wanted to take a break," she said. "Denis Baupin appeared in the corridor outside... He pinned me against the wall with his chest and tried to kiss me. I pushed him away vigorously."
   
The encounter made Rousseau, who was vice president of a regional council in northern France, "very uneasy", she said.
   
"I immediately thought that it was absolutely not normal that this should happen to me. But I thought of it as sexual aggression much later," she said.
   
Isabelle Attard, who quit the EELV party in December 2013, said Baupin subjected her to "almost daily harassment with provocative, salacious text messages".
   
Two other elected Green party members, Elen Debost, who is deputy mayor of the central city of Le Mans, and Annie Lahmer, a member of the Paris regional government, have also accused Baupin of sexual impropriety.
   
French law has a statute of limitations of three years in cases of sexual harassment or aggression, except when the alleged victim is a minor, when it is longer.
 
Baupin left the EELV party last month over "strategic disagreements" ahead of elections next year.
 
 
French journalist Tristane Banon who accused former French politician DSK of sexual assault. Photo: AFP
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