A French senator has been preliminarily charged with slipping a fellow lawmaker ecstasy with the intent to sexually assault her, according to prosecutors.
Joel Guerriau, who represents the Loire-Atlantique region of western France, was arrested Thursday at his Paris home after he was accused of spiking the drink of Sandrine Josso, 48, who represents the same area in the National Assembly, France’s lower house of Parliament, AFP reported.
The Paris prosecutor’s office said Friday Guerriau, 66, was under investigation for use and possession of illicit drugs and for giving someone mind-altering drugs without their consent to “commit a rape or sexual assault, ”which carries a maximum penalty of five years imprisonment and roughly $82,000 fine.
Under French law, preliminary charges mean investigating magistrates have strong reason to suspect wrongdoing but need more time before deciding whether to send a case to trial.
Josso, 48, filed a criminal complaint after she allegedly became ill from drinking out of a glass at Guerriau’s house Tuesday night and learned from a medical test that ecstasy was present in her system, according to investigators.
The lawmakers, while long-time friends, were not in a relationship, according to prosecutors.
Julia Minkowski, a lawyer for Josso, told AFP on Friday that her client was “still in a state of shock.”
She said the Josso had felt unwell after drinking a glass of champagne at Guerriau’s home, and saw her host “grabbing a small plastic bag containing something white, in a drawer in his kitchen.”
“She had to deploy monumental physical and intellectual forces to overcome her terror and extricate herself at the last minute from this ambush,” Minkowski said.
“Added to this is a feeling of betrayal and total incomprehension – Joël Guerriau had been a friend for around 10 years in whom she had complete confidence.”
Guerriau, who is a banker and was first elected to the senate in 2011, has been placed under judicial supervision and is prohibited from visiting Josso’s home or contacting her or any witnesses, according to prosecutors and his lawyer, Remi-Pierre Drai.
Drai told the outlet Guerriau denied he had any intent to assault his colleague.
“Joel Guerriau is not a predator,” Drai said.
“He is an honest man, respected and respectable who will restore his honor and that of his family.”