Al-Jazeerah: Cross-Cultural Understanding
News, June 2011
French Civil Service Minister, Georges Tron, Resigns After Accusations of sexual Harassment from Two Women
Junior minister resigns after claims of sexual harassment
France's junior minister for the civil service, Georges Tron, resigned on Sunday following accusations of sexually harassing staff who served with him in his concurrent post as mayor of the town of Draveil.
By News Wires (text), France 24
May 30, 2011
A minister has resigned from the government Sunday to fight allegations of sexual harassment, two weeks after ex-IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn's sensational New York arrest on sex crime charges.
Civil service minister Georges Tron, accused of sexually harassing two women who worked for him at the town hall where he is mayor, said in his letter of resignation to President Nicolas Sarkozy that he would prove his innocence.
He stepped down after prosecutors said Wednesday they had opened a preliminary investigation into accusations of sexual aggression and rape against him.
His lawyer has described his accusers as "inveterate liars."
The 53-year-old minister said in his resignation letter he would disprove the "vindictive" accusations by the former municipal employees, one of whom he said was sacked for fraud and the other for "undignified behaviour."
The two women, aged 34 and 36, claimed in the complaints they lodged with the public prosecutor that Tron had assaulted them when they worked in the town hall of the south Paris suburb Draveil, where Tron is mayor.
The alleged incidents took place between 2007 and 2010.
One of the women said she was encouraged to speak up after the arrest of another French political heavyweight, former socialist minister Dominique Strauss-Kahn.
"When I see that a chambermaid was capable of taking on Dominique Strauss-Kahn, I tell myself I don’t have the right to stay silent," the woman, who was not identified by name, told Le Parisien newspaper.
"Other women may be suffering what I suffered. I have to help them. We must break this code of silence," she said.
Strauss-Kahn has stepped down from his post at the head of the International Monetary Fund to devote himself to fighting charges that he tried to rape a chambermaid in his New York hotel suite.
Tron's resignation was announced in a statement by Prime Minister Francois Fillon, who praised Tron for his "courage" in taking a decision which was in the "general interest".
Tron has linked the case to a feud with relatives of right-wing National Front leader Marine Le Pen living in Draveil, which prompted Le Pen to announce that she was suing him for defamation.
He has alleged that his political rivals were trying to gain momentum from the arrest of Strauss-Kahn.
"I am not naive. They are trying to echo what's happening on the other side of the Atlantic," he told AFP on Tuesday.
Le Pen, who has dismissed the allegation, said Thursday she would sue Tron for libel. She had been calling for his resignation since Friday.
After examining the evidence, prosecutors can decide to shelve the case against the ex-minister, refer it to an examining magistrate or send it straight for trial.
Tron is a member of the rightwing UMP party led by Sarkozy, who is widely expected to seek re-election in next year's presidential vote in France.
Strauss-Kahn had been seen as a leading presidential hopeful for the opposition Socialists, but his arrest in New York has likely scuppered his chances.
Strauss-Kahn was released on bail this week after spending nearly a week behind bars following his dramatic arrest just hours after the alleged assault, as he was about to take off on an Air France plane for Paris.
He is due back in court on June 6, when he is expected to enter a formal plea of not guilty. If so, the case would move to trial later this year.
Junior minister accused of sexual harassment
Two women made allegations of sexual harassment against French Civil Service Minister Georges Tron, days after former IMF boss Dominique Strauss-Kahn was charged with attempted rape. Tron responded by filing a defamation suit against the women.
France 24, May 25, 2011
By News Wires (text)
Two French women are filing legal complaints against a junior government minister they accuse of sexual harassment, apparently encouraged to speak up after the recent arrest of Dominique Strauss-Kahn on sex crime charges.
Gilbert Collard, lawyer for the women, said he had submitted the complaints against Georges Tron, the civil service minister, to a public prosecutor this week and he confirmed to Reuters the accusation was sexual harassment.
Tron’s lawyer, Olivier Schnerb, dismissed the complaints and said he had been instructed to respond by filing a defamation complaint in return.
Tron, who was quoted by Le Parisien daily as saying the accusations were "incredible", told Reuters he had informed Prime Minister Francois Fillon about the matter and said the plaintiffs were women who had been dismissed from their town hall posts in Draveil, just south of Paris, where Tron is mayor.
“The complaint was sent by mail on Monday and reiterated by the plaintiffs this morning,” Collard said.
One of the women described the reasons for her complaint in an interview, under a false name, in Le Parisien.
She said the 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 felt encouraged 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 has gripped France and the world.
“When I see that a little chambermaid is capable of taking on Dominique Strauss-Kahn, I tell myself I do not have the right to stay silent,” said the woman, whom the newspaper called Laura, adding that this was not her real name.
Strauss-Kahn, who was favourite to win next year’s French presidential election, was arrested in New York on May 14 and has been charged with attempting to rape a Sofitel hotel maid, charges he has denied and vowed to fight.
The arrest has triggered soul-searching and debate in France about tolerance of sexual harassment and media reluctance to pursue and highlight such issues more aggressively.
In his comments to Le Parisien, Tron suggested the complaint against him was motivated by vengeance and also spoke of a link to a local dispute over a property development, adding that the two women were connected to people from the political far-right who were involved in that dispute.
The two women had been dismissed from their town hall jobs
following disciplinary procedures, he told the newspaper, which
added that he refused to comment on the substance of the
accusations made against him.
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