A French senator was arrested for questioning on suspicion of drugging an MP with a view to sexually assaulting her.
Joël Guerriau, 66, a centrist senator from western France, was being held for “administering to a person without their knowledge a substance likely to diminish their judgment or self-control to commit a rape or sexual assault”, prosecutors said on Thursday.
The charge carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a €75,000 (£65,500) fine.
While the prosecutors named the victim only as “a woman, who filed a complaint”, French media widely reported that she is an MP.
She allegedly felt strange after accepting a drink on Tuesday night at the 66-year-old senator’s Paris home. Prosecutors said the two were not in an intimate relationship.
Tests revealed clear traces of the drug ecstasy in her system, investigators added, prompting her to file a criminal complaint.
Mr Guerriau was arrested and held in custody under caught-in-the-act rules allowing police to override his parliamentary immunity, prosecutors said.
Mixture including esctasy found
Broadcaster RMC, which first reported the story, said that police had searched his office and home, where prosecutors confirmed they found a mixture including ecstasy.
Originally a banker, Mr Guerriau has been a member of the senate since 2011. He is currently vice president of the senate’s foreign affairs and defence committee.
An independent centrist in the senate, he is a member of the Horizon party of Edouard Philippe, Emmanuel Macron’s popular former prime minister who has made it clear he intends to run for presidential election in 2027.
Christophe Béchu, Mr Macron’s green transition minister and Horizon secretary general, said that Mr Guerriau could “obviously not remain in the party if there is the slightest doubt” that he drugged the unnamed MP. “If it’s true, it’s frightful,” he told France Inter.
Mr Guerriau’s lawyer, Rémi-Pierre Drai, said he was “outraged to see information from the investigation in the press”.
“I’m amazed that the victim’s name has not been leaked, unlike my client’s,” he added. “We are very far from the scabrous interpretation that can be deduced from reading the first press articles.”
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