France's Culture Ministry is housed in the Palais Royal in Paris. Photo: Guilhem Vellut/Wikimedia Commons
Christian N., former human resources director in the culture ministry, is accused of preying on over 200 women, mostly job candidates, between 2009 and 2018, Liberation newspaper reported.
A judicial source confirmed to AFP that he had been charged with sexual assault by a person abusing his position of authority, violent conduct by a public servant, administering a harmful substance, violation of privacy and breaching France's drug code.
In a lengthy report on the affair, which has caused embarrassment for the culture ministry, Liberation quoted five women who described how, during a job interview, Christian N. offered them a cup or tea or coffee and then invited them on a long walking tour of sights near the culture ministry in Paris.
During the walkabout they become seized with a sudden, crippling desire to urinate, whereupon the man took them to the banks of the Seine river and offered to shield them from view with his coat while they relieved themselves under a bridge.
One of the women told Liberation she spent four days in hospital with a urinary tract infection after the encounter.
A police investigation revealed that the official had spiked the women's drinks with a powerful diuretic.
Christian N. is also accused of secretly snapping pictures of women's legs under the desk using his mobile phone.
After catching him in the act the ministry reported him to the police, which found a list on his computer of over 200 women he had targeted, along with photographs and lurid descriptions of women urinating in front of him.
He was suspended in October 2018 and fired three months later.
Contacted by Liberation he admitted to drugging “10 or 20” women and said he “wished I had been stopped earlier”.
'A real pervert'
Reacting to the case on Europe 1 radio, Culture Minister Franck Riester, who has been in the post since October 2018, said he was “floored” by what he called the “crazy case of a pervert”.
The culture ministry said it had begun disciplinary proceedings as soon as it was informed of the official's alleged actions.
But one of his accusers, who worked at the culture ministry, claimed she had been warned about him years before he was sacked.
Liberation also reported that another alleged victim had written to two former culture ministers, both women, to complain about the man's behaviour, but received no reply.