Photo credits: STEPHANE DE SAKUTIN / AFP
This Tuesday, ten days after the accusations of rape against Damien Abad revealed by Mediapart, two women, one anonymously and the other with their faces uncovered, testify against the new Minister of Solidarity in the program “A l’air libre” : Margaux, a 35-year-old former centrist activist who filed a complaint in 2017 and Chloé, who wishes to remain anonymous.
They denounce rapes committed by the current appointed Minister of Solidarity, despite the reports sent to the LREM and LR parties through the Observatory of sexist and sexual violence in politics.
“They knew and they did nothing”: Margaux and Chloé break the omerta around the actions of Abad
Margaux, the first to speak, says that in 2009, she had met Damien Abad in Paris during a political meeting when she was vice-president of the Young Democrats. She says: “For six months we sent text messages from time to time, it was flirting and I was charmed by him. He was insistent several times. “She testifies to having had with Damien Abad” a sexual relationship, consented at the start, more consented then, and that is why I am complaining “.
She testifies today to the long and difficult journey before succeeding in filing a complaint when she was precisely trying to make politics her profession and Damien Abad was her “political superior”.
After more than five years of hesitation, she manages to file a complaint in 2017. She denounces the judicial handling of her complaint, which was dismissed, and even turned against her: “I saw that in the file, the person on whom the investigation was made, it is me”. For her it is a “botched” investigation. Damien Abad’s defense was authentic: “He was not in police custody, nothing, his partner was not called, no parliamentary assistant was called, there was no examination medical, his ping pong coach was not called”
Indeed, Damien Abad’s main line of defense is his disability, as his May 23 speech again shows, a sneaky defense according to the plaintiffs.
Margaux responds thus “he finds out about his handicap when he wants to by boasting of being a ping-pong champion among the able-bodied […] and on the other hand, he uses it to say that he cannot rape”. A null and void defense that angers the plaintiffs. “To continue doing what he did when I said ‘no’ is rape, he doesn’t need to have the strength to tackle me to the ground, he doesn’t need to have got a gun […] It’s disgusting for all disabled people to take this as a banner.
The case comes out in the press as soon as the 2017 presidential elections and the LR party, in which Damien Abad is an activist, is made aware of these accusations.
“The reaction of the men of the UMP (before the party became LR) was a joke”, it was a “schoolboy” joke. She also denounces the management of the affair within the party: “They knew and they did nothing”. Damien Abad denies the facts as a whole.
Chloé, she recounts facts dating back more than 10 years. From December 2020, she contacted Marine Turchi, “this affair does not come out of the hat”. Indeed, she explains that in the context of the #Metoo movement, the Médiapart program with Adèle Haenel gave her the courage to come and testify.
Her testimony is chilling, she recounts having gone for a drink with Damien Abad, then waking up, in his underwear, in the latter’s hotel room without having any memory of the old woman’s evening: “I I asked if something had happened, he said no”. She also explains that she returned home feeling sore, “I felt dirty”. “Things had happened” and although she has no memory, she specifies “knowing intimately” that she was drugged.
Chloé also explains that she did not want to go and file a complaint since she herself did not know exactly what had happened. She explains that in view of the way in which cases of gender-based and sexual violence are usually handled, even when there is evidence, she did not dare to imagine how her testimony would be received.
“Complain for what? So that in the end Damien Abad and everyone can say: Yes, but it’s closed without further action so nothing happened? »
But when she saw that he was approached to be minister, she made a report to the observatory of sexist and sexual violence in politics and the parties LREM and LR were thus made aware.
This report was transmitted to the Paris Public Prosecutor’s Office, which did not follow up in the absence… “of elements enabling the victim of the facts denounced to be identified”.
“I don’t want to embark on an extremely onerous, extremely humiliating obstacle course,” says Chloé.
Impunity: the government’s rule in the management of cases of gender-based and sexual violence
The victims thus denounce total impunity for the aggressors with regard to cases of sexist and sexual assault, in a government whose great cause for the quinquennium is sadly, and not without irony: “equality between women and men”.
Margaux specifies: “I decided not to speak to the media because I trusted in justice, which was not a good idea”.
Chloé, she regrets that “the fact of closing a case without further action completely clears the accused, as if he had done nothing”.
Margaux also specifies that “there is a systemic nature in the aggressions of this man” and that “there are surely other [victimes] “.
The two plaintiffs accuse a judicial system that does not defend the victims of gender-based and sexual violence, and even less when it is committed by politicians. A patriarchal system that makes them feel guilty and transforms the situation in such a way that it is the victims who are blamed. Darmanin’s appointment twice as Minister of the Interior, despite accusations of sexual assault against him, shows this well.
For the two women who testify on Mediapart, Elizabeth Borne is lying when she claims to have discovered the facts in the May 21 Mediapart article, while Matignon was contacted and warned by Marine Turchi the day before publication, Friday May 20. The reporter got no response.
This is demonstrative of the way in which cases are handled within the government where judicial impunity is the norm. Whether for accusations of sexist and sexual violence as shown by the Abad and Darmanin cases. But even more broadly, all the setbacks of politicians with the law are swept under the carpet, like the accusations brought, once again, against Damien Abad who allegedly helped the bosses of a factory in Ain in their trouble with the law, after they ordered an assassination against a trade unionist employee.
In the continuity of the #Metoo movement, we must continue to denounce this sexist and sexual violence, but also fight the total impunity enjoyed by their perpetrators. Impunity favored by the permanent suspicion against the victims and the role of protection for the aggressors, played by the police and justice, even more when it comes to men of power in the government. This gender-based violence is, as the complainants point out, systemic and affects all sectors of society. Each day when Damien Abad can continue to remain in office, and to have all the levers of power to defend themselves, is an incentive to renunciation, and to silence for the victims. Macron and Borne are the first accomplices of this spat against the victims of sexist and sexual assault.
We cannot trust the State and its justice to put an end to this regime of impunity. It is therefore necessary to organize ourselves outside the judicial institution, in our places of study or in our workplaces against gender violence, and, in alliance with the labor movement, prepare the fight against all those who want to defend impunity, starting with the government.