New false start for a trial of Georges Tron: acquitted at first instance of charges of rape and sexual assault on two former collaborators, the former secretary of state, contact case of a person positive for Covid-19, saw his appeal trial suspended from the opening Tuesday at the Paris Assizes.
“It’s diesel starts. It starts slowly but it will hold up,” Loïc Guérin, lawyer for the plaintiff Éva Loubrieu, told the press at the end of the hearing, estimating that “the delay of a few days does not change not much”.
Former Draveil town hall employee Éva Loubrieu, like her colleague Virgine Ettel, accuses Georges Tron, the mayor of this small town in the Essonne, of imposing digital touch and penetration on them between 2007 and 2010 under the guise of sessions of foot reflexology and with the complicity of his then Culture Assistant, Brigitte Gruel, who appeared alongside him.
As soon as the debates were opened, the 63-year-old elected Republicans told the court that he had been contacted on Friday by one of his deputies at the town hall, who has since tested positive for Covid-19. In addition, two other collaborators of his municipal team informed him on Tuesday that they had also contracted the new coronavirus.
Purple scarf tucked into a gray sweater and framed by a jacket, Mr Tron said he was not experiencing symptoms. After retiring for about forty minutes to deliberate, the court ordered him to take a PCR test on Friday, before suspending the hearing until Monday, January 25 in the morning.
The rest of the trial will depend on the result of the accused’s test. The program of debates has been adapted to this new situation.
– Ten months postponement –
This false start recalls the surprise postponement of the trial at first instance before the Seine-Saint-Denis Assize Court. This could not be held at the end of 2017, a period originally planned, due to a tense audience full of incidents.
Ten months later, the “second first trial”, which lasted from nine days to four weeks, had finally resulted in the acquittal of the two defendants, a verdict denounced by feminist associations.
Made public just days after the outbreak of the DSK affair in May 2011, this affair had forced Georges Tron to resign from the Secretary of State for the Civil Service in the Fillon government. She is coming back to justice at a time when questions of sexual violence are agitating public opinion.
With a procession of nearly sixty witnesses expected, the appeal trial is originally scheduled to last until February 12.
The audience will linger at length on the personality of the local elected official with the appearance of notable, claimed follower of plantar reflexology. At the previous trial, several women had estimated in their testimony that the foot massages provided by Georges Tron came under a “mode of operation” to bring down their defenses.
At first instance, the court considered that the “general hyper sexualized climate” at the Town Hall of the town of 29,000 inhabitants gave credibility to the accounts of scenes of a sexual nature made by the complainants.
However, she had cleared the accused by ruling out the existence of a situation of constraint – which characterizes rape and sexual assault in the penal code – between the elected official and the two municipal employees. The judgment pointed in particular to contradictions, even lies, on the part of the complainants.
Case in point, the Paris Court of Appeal relaunched in February an investigation for witness tampering targeting Georges Tron. She is interested in possible pressures suffered by witnesses to the alleged sexual abuse.