Monday, May 30, 2011
French minister quits over sex harassment case
May 29, 2011
A junior minister in French President Nicolas Sarkozy's center-right government resigned on Sunday after he was accused of sexual harassment by two women, the government said.
One of Georges Tron's accusers said she had been encouraged to speak up by the arrest two weeks ago of Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the head of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), on charges he attempted to rape a chambermaid in New York City.
French prosecutors have opened an inquiry into accusations against Tron, the minister in charge of the civil service.
"Mr Georges Tron ... today informed Prime Minister Francois Fillon of his resignation from the government," the prime minister's office said in a statement.
"The Prime Minister, together with the President of the Republic, takes note of this decision, which does not in any way prejudice the next steps the justice system will take with regard to the complaints made against Georges Tron, the legitimacy of which he contests," the statement said.
Foreign Minister Alain Juppe, who had called for Tron to "accept his responsibilities" just a few minutes before he quit, said on Canal+ television that he had "made the right decision."
Budget Minister and government spokesman Francois Baroin will take on Tron's responsibilities, a source in the president's office said.
Tron has called the accusations "incredible" and said the two women were dismissed from their posts at the town hall in Draveil, south of Paris, where he is mayor.
"In my capacity as an ordinary citizen, I will make it my business to make my innocence known, by fighting the vindictive accusations of these two former colleagues," Tron wrote in a letter to President Sarkozy.
Tron added that one of his accusers had been dismissed for misappropriating public funds while the other had left her job because of inappropriate behavior.
Tron's lawyer, Olivier Schnerb has been instructed to file a defamation complaint in response to the accusations.
One of the women described the reasons for her complaint in an interview on Wednesday, under a false name, in Le Parisien.
She said the 53-year-old minister touched her inappropriately on various occasions during a two-year stint at Draveil town hall, where she worked for a time on the reception desk of Tron's office.
She said she was driven to break her silence after former IMF chief Strauss-Kahn was arrested and charged with attempted rape on the basis of the accusations of a New York hotel maid in a case that stunned France and the world.
On Saturday, Tron told Le Parisien that the question of his resignation was a valid one. "I do not want to become an embarrassment," he told the paper.
Later on Saturday his lawyer said he was not planning to resign, but added: "If the President of the Republic or the Prime Minister show the slightest wish that he leaves the government, he will immediately resign himself to that."
Strauss-Kahn, who had been expected to run for president as the opposition Socialist party candidate in 2012, has resigned from the IMF and vowed to fight the charges.
Posted by Blogaholic at 5/30/2011 01:14:00 AM