A French court once again dismisses a rape case against a minister

On Tuesday, the Paris Court of Appeal confirmed that a rape case against Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin had been dismissed, although the accused said it would continue to fight to hear it.

Chief Prosecutor Remy Heitz said the court confirmed abandonment of the case, which stemmed from a 2017 complaint made by Sophie Patterson Spatz that Darmanin raped her in 2009.

The ruling is a boost for Durmanin, 40, a young, high-profile figure to the right of President Emmanuel Macron’s centrist government who has often spoken out firmly on fighting illegal immigration and crime.

“For the fifth time in nearly six years, the justice system has found that no objectionable act can be attributed to Gerald Darmanin,” his lawyers Pierre-Olivier Sur and Matthias Czechbortić said, adding that the minister “would not make any further comment.”

“What a surprise,” Patterson Spatz’s lawyer Elodie Toillon-Hibon wrote on Twitter, adding that her client would take her case to France’s Supreme Court, the Court of Cassation and the European Court of Human Rights if it fails there.

Patterson Spatz and her attorneys say Darmanin extorted sex from the plaintiff in exchange for intervening in a case against her when he was working in the legal service for the conservative UMP party — which has since been renamed Republican.

Darmanin admits to having sex with Patterson Spatz, but says it was consensual.

In 2021, the examining magistrate said the case should be dropped, finding that her “sincerity … cannot be questioned” but that she “deliberately chose to have sex with (Darmanin) in the hope of a retrial in her criminal case”.

The judge added, “Law and morality cannot be confused,” saying that the plaintiff was “acceptable in the eyes of the law.”

A second rape investigation against Darmanin, on suspicion that he extorted sex from a woman in exchange for a job and an apartment, was dropped in 2018.

In office since July 2020, Darmanin has sought to strengthen ties with the police and has also played a key role in talks with his British counterparts seeking to limit small boats crossing the Channel.

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