Strauss-Kahn Case Spurs French Woman to Charge Minister with Rape

Sarkozy's official resigns after two accuse him of sexual assault

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In the United States, the allegations against Dominique Strauss-Kahn seemed to herald a series of sex scandals in the news. Now in France, the controversy has inspired a women to speak out against another government official. Junior civil service minister George Tron resigned on Sunday after he became the subject of a preliminary investigation into charges of rape and sexual assault, the Associated Press reports. Two women alleged that he had attacked them between 2007 and 2010.

Tron, 53, is a member of President Nicolas Sarkozy's conservative UMP party. The two women, aged 34 and 36, once worked at the town hall of Draveil, south of Paris, where Tron has long been mayor. One said she was too ashamed to tell anyone at first, but that she spoke out after the charges were brought in New York against Strauss-Kahn.

"When I saw that a chambermaid was capable of taking on Dominique Strauss-Kahn, I told myself I didn't have the right to keep quiet," said the woman, who was not identified by name. "Other women may be suffering what I suffered. I have to help them. We have to break this code of silence."

As Tron, like Strauss-Kahn, denies the allegations, France now has its own high profile sexual assault investigation to undertake. It will be interesting to see its procedure, especially after many in France heavily criticized the U.S. for it's handling of the Strauss-Kahn case.

“There is an aspect of pageantry that we don’t have in our country,” Judge Marie-Blanche Régnier told the New York Times. However, critics say the French system allows cases against well-known people to go nowhere or result in reduced charges without explanation. The European Court of Human Rights has repeatedly criticized the French judiciary as lacking independence. “For the powerful,” Judge Régnier said, “there is a treatment that can be different.”

On the other hand, French lawyers seldom attack the credibility of witnesses or plaintiffs, a common tactic in American court cases. “We’re going to see the man who could have been the embodiment of the French left obligated — because it’s the American judicial system that wants it — to crush this woman,” Jean-Dominique Merchet, a deputy editor at the weekly magazine Marianne, said on France Info radio. No doubt these two parallel cases will offer a lesson in comparing very different justice systems and cultures.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.