Former French president accused of sexual assault

Former French head of state, Valéry Giscard d'Estaing, 94 years old, is the subject of an assault complaint Sexuality filed by a German journalist who accuses him of having touched her buttocks several times 2018. Ann-Kathrin Stracke, a 18 journalist working for the German public television WDR, told AFP on Thursday that the current member of the Constitutional Council and former Head of State (1974 – 1981), three times, put his hand on his buttocks during an interview in his Paris office. It thus confirms information published on Wednesday evening by the French Le Monde and German Süddeutsche Zeitung dailies.

“I decided to tell my story because I think people should know that a former French president sexually harassed a journalist, in this case me, after an interview,” he said. she explained to AFP.

She sent her complaint for sexual assault to the Paris Prosecutor's Office on 10 March 2020. She is supported by her employer who has commissioned an independent investigation. When questioned by AFP, the Paris Public Prosecutor's Office did not want to comment immediately. Also requested, those close to Valéry Giscard d'Estaing did not respond at this stage either.

Wandering hands

The facts would have occurred on 18 December 2018 during an interview with Mr. Giscard d'Estaing, on the occasion of 100 e anniversary of the birth of Helmut Schmidt, former German chancellor with whom the former French president rubbed shoulders when he was at the Élysée.

“After the interview, I asked to be able to take a photo with Mr. Giscard d'Estaing and my colleagues. This photo was taken by his assistant who was in the room. I was standing to the left of “VGE” [Valéry Giscard d’Estaing, ndlr] and, during the photo, he put his hand on my left waist, which then slid further towards my buttocks and stayed there, ”says M me Stracke.

A situation which would have been repeated on two other occasions just after: during a new photo and when the former president showed him old images of him alongside other heads of state or his family. “I tried to push it away again, but I didn't succeed,” she says.

To free herself from this situation which she describes as “very degrading”, she claims to have obtained the assistance of her cameraman who, overturning a lampshade and placing a chair between the former president and the journalist , sought to diversion.

Back in Cologne, where the headquarters of WDR is located, she shared this situation with her employer, who took history seriously. The chain's management then mandates a law firm to collect the testimony of the journalist and her colleagues.

“The WDR has accompanied and supported Ann-Kathrin Stracke since the incident was known, even when it decided to file a complaint,” a spokeswoman for the channel told AFP.

The media then mandates a French law firm which sends in June 2019 a letter to the office of Mr. Giscard d'Estaing, who acknowledges receipt four weeks later. WDR writes that it cannot “tolerate our employees being faced with such situations”.

The journalist will decide to file a complaint almost a year later and tell her story publicly, encouraged by the #MeToo women's speech movement to combat sexual harassment. With this complaint, Mr. me Stracke wishes the opening of a “social debate on sexual harassment and more courage to express yourself and name things. ”

Knowing that his journalist was going to publicly reveal the story, the WDR again contacted Valéry Giscard d'Estaing's office in April to ask for an explanation. “On May 4, the lawyer for Mr. Giscard d'Estaing announced that the office of the former president was not aware of the criminal charges and therefore would not respond,” said the channel to AFP.