Joël Guerriau, a 66-year-old French senator and member of the center-right Horizons party, faces preliminary charges of drugging a female lawmaker with ecstasy to commit rape, as stated by the public prosecutor’s office on Friday.
Arrested on Thursday, Guerriau’s charges stem from an incident involving fellow lawmaker Sandrine Josso, 48. Josso reported feeling unwell after consuming a glass of champagne at Guerriau’s Paris home two days prior to his arrest.
Josso recounted observing Guerriau retrieve “a small plastic bag containing something white, in a drawer in his kitchen,” as her lawyer Julia Minkowski conveyed to AFP. “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. She further noted that her client was “in a state of shock.”
The Paris prosecutor’s office confirmed that Guerriau was preliminarily charged with the intent to carry out a rape or sexual assault. Under French law, preliminary charges suggest strong suspicion of wrongdoing and allow further investigation before deciding on a trial. Ecstasy was found in Josso’s system, leading her to file a criminal complaint. Subsequent police searches of Guerriau’s office and home uncovered ecstasy, as reported by the broadcasting station RMC.
Guerriau, now suspended from the Horizons party, was also indicted for possessing drugs and placed under judicial supervision. His lawyer, Remi-Pierre Drai, emphasized that “we are miles away from the obscene interpretation that one might infer from reading initial reports in the press.”
Drai defended Guerriau, describing him as “an honest man, respected and respectable, who will restore his and his family’s honor.” He added that Guerriau did not intend to drug Josso for abuse and has apologized, attributing the incident to “a handling error,” without elaborating further.
Josso, a member of the National Assembly since 2017, and Guerriau, a senator since 2011 and deputy head of the foreign and military affairs committee, reportedly had a decade-long friendship without romantic involvement. Guerriau’s career began in banking before his political tenure.
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