French senator faces attempted rape charges after alleged drugging of female colleague's drink

A sexual misconduct scandal has shaken the French parliament, pictured, as senator Joel Guerriau is accused of attempted rape after a female colleague accused him of spiking her drink during a recent visit to his home. File photo by Mohammed Badra/EPA-EFE

Nov. 18 (UPI) -- A senator in the French parliament faces charges of attempted rape after police claim he laced the drink of a female colleague, prompting the victim to go to a hospital where medics found traces of ecstasy in her blood.

Joel Guerriau was taken into custody on Nov. 16, two days after the 66-year-old was accused of "administering to a person without their knowledge, a substance likely to diminish their judgment or self-control, to commit a rape or sexual assault," according to a criminal complaint filed in the case.

Guerriau, a former banker and member of the centrist Horizons party, who holds a seat as one of 18 independents in the French upper house, was also charged with possession of controlled substances after investigators questioned him two days after the incident, the BBC reported.

The alleged drugging involved a member of the lower house of parliament whose identity was being withheld by authorities as the investigation played out.

Due to the seriousness of the charges, the senator was not eligible for parliamentary immunity in the matter, posing a significant threat to his political career.

The victim, who was not romantically involved with Guerriau, said she was visiting the senator at his home when she suddenly felt ill after taking a sip from a glass of champagne provided by Guerriau.

Moments earlier, she said she observed Guerriau "grabbing a small plastic bag containing something white, in a drawer in his kitchen."

The woman's lawyer, Julia Minkowski, said her client was "still in a state of shock" after the encounter, The Guardian reported. Minkowski that her client felt betrayed because she and Guerriau had been professional confidants for more than a decade.

"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. Later at the hospital, she called police after learning that drugs were in her system.

Guerriau was placed under house arrest and has been ordered not to contact the alleged victim.

Guerriau's lawyer, Remi-Pierre Drai, immediately proclaimed his innocence, saying his client is "not a predator."

"He is an honest man, respected and respectable who will restore his honor and that of his family," Drau said. "He will fight to prove that he never intended to administer a substance to his work colleague and longstanding friend to abuse her."