Rape investigation opened into ex deputy mayor of Paris

French prosecutors on Tuesday said they were opening an investigation into alleged rape against a former deputy mayor of Paris after a man accused him in a newspaper article of years of abuse.

Rape investigation opened into ex deputy mayor of Paris
Protesters outside Paris City Hall demand the resignation of Christophe Girard. Photo: AFP

A preliminary probe against Christophe Girard has been opened into alleged “rape by a person in a position of authority”, Paris prosecutor Remy Heitz said in a statement.

The probe has been opened swiftly after the New York Times reported the allegations of a now 46-year-old man that Girard had sexually abused him over nearly a decade after they met in Tunisia when he was 15.

Christophe Girard resigned in July after protests. Photo: AFP

He claimed that Girard sexually abused him when he was 16, and then coerced him into sex on about 20 further occasions over several years.

The prosecutor's statement said that the investigation would aim to determine if the allegations “could be characterised as a crime” and also, given that the alleged events date back several decades “if the statute of limitations applies to them”.

Girard resigned as deputy to Mayor Anne Hidalgo in July after opposition politicians and women's groups demanded his suspension over ties to Gabriel Matzneff, an award-winning writer who has never hid his preference for sex with adolescent girls and boys.

Girard, in a statement issued by his lawyer Delphine Meillet on Sunday, rejected the accusations “with the utmost firmness”.

Girard, who was in charge of cultural affairs for the Paris government until his resignation, was questioned in March in connection with an ongoing investigation into Matzneff following claims by author Vanessa Springora of an under-age relationship with her.

Matzneff is to stand trial next year on a charge of justifying paedophilia, and prosecutors launched a rape investigation the day after Springora's bestselling book “Consent” was published.

The case of Matzneff is seen by campaigners as a key test of whether France is serious about cracking down on sexual abuse of minors after many years of what critics say has been turning a blind eye to the issue.

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Paris police rescue handbag robber from river Seine

Paris police on Tuesday fished a man out of the Seine river, which he jumped into after he rammed a car into a Valentino store and robbed dozens of luxury handbags.

Paris police rescue handbag robber from river Seine

The 24-year-old suspect smashed into the store around 2am on the high-end Rue Saint-Honoré, a police source said.

He grabbed as many as 30 luxury handbags and other items before attempting to flee in the car.

The man then failed to stop when a police patrol gave chase after spotting him near the central Paris Opéra.

He abandoned the car on Place de la Concorde at the end of the Champs-Elysées, the police source said, before plunging into the nearby river Seine.

But river police quickly fished him out and placed him under arrest.

A source familiar with the case said that the “entirety” of the stolen items had been found.

A second source told AFP that “around 30” handbags – which Valentino lists on its website at between €1,000 and €3,000 – were found in his car.

The suspect now faces an investigation for charges including aggravated robbery and refusal to comply with police, Paris prosecutors said.