Mediapart investigation into the Damien Abad affair: the government had been warned

This case resonates at the highest level of the state. Each minister, traveling in the field, is questioned by journalists on what is now called “the Abad affair” named after the new Minister of Solidarity, Autonomy and Disabled People, Damien Abad, accused of rape by two women. If he says he is “innocent”, others like Xavier Bertrand affirm that the executive has chosen to appoint him “in full knowledge of the facts”, which is confirmed by the journalist from Mediapart Marine Turchi, guest of Culture Media Wednesday, which signs an investigation on Damien Abad.

“A very insistent Damien Abad”

“When Élisabeth Borne explained on Sunday morning that she discovered these accusations, it is false, I had them on the phone on Friday, how can they say on Sunday that they are discovering all this?” exclaimed Marine Turchi on Europe 1 who also wrote Friday to Christophe Castaner, president of the LREM group in the National Assembly and Stanislas Guerini, Minister of Transformation and Public Service.

“When I hear the government spokeswoman say that no member of the government knew of these accusations, it’s impossible,” she said.

These cases, which come out in the press in turn, bear witness to the freedom of speech that had begun in the United States with the #Metoo movement.

In her investigation of the new Minister of Solidarity, the journalist collected the testimony of two women, Chloé* 41 and Margot 35 years old. Margot, a former centrist activist, filed a complaint in 2017 for rape. A complaint closed without follow-up. “A flirtation begins by SMS, in several SMS we see a very insistent Damien Abad, not respecting his refusals. When she says to him ‘I did not send a desire to send an SMS with a photo of me naked’, he insists, he insists, he insists”, says Marine Turchi.

“There will be a meeting at Margot’s home, after the beginning of a consensual relationship. According to his story, he would have forced her to sexual practices that she did not want. She claims that she told him no repeatedly, that she stopped moving and that he continued despite everything“, she continues.

Chloé, 41, comes into contact with elected officials and political leaders as part of her work. She meets Damien Abad at a wedding and goes to see him again for both friendly dates and professional appointments. “She explains that while she was drinking a glass of champagne that Damien Abad had brought her, she felt bad, she blacked out,” describes the journalist. “She remembers only one thing: waking up in her underwear in the hotel room next to Damien Abad, with no memory of how she got there.”

Inappropriate behavior towards several employees?

“But there are also other things that come from people who have been active in the centrist movement or on the right who tell me of accusations of inappropriate behavior that Damien Abad would have had with regard to collaborators”, confesses Marine Turchi. “It’s something I’ve heard a lot, especially from the secretary general of the Republicans (LR), Aurélien Pradié, who tells me that he questioned Damien Abad on this subject in November 2020. You should know that this episode n is not denied by Damien Abad who simply told me that it was an attempt at political destabilization on the part of LR.

A testimony collected in January 2021

It is after having seen the testimony of Adèle Haenel in Mediapart about Christophe Ruggia that Chloé decided in January 2021 to contact the journalist. “At the time, we weren’t able to publish because we felt we could find more and that wasn’t enough,” she admits.

“For me, these are facts of public interest which shed light on the alleged behavior of an elected official when he was boss of the LR group in the National Assembly. There, he is a minister, but for me, it is the same question.” In her investigation, Marine Turchi gives the floor to the principal concerned. “I asked Damien Abad for an interview, he didn’t answer me, I started again, I don’t know how many times,” she says.

“Then he said to me ‘I will answer you’ and I received a written response, a global response which was not precisely on all my questions and which was very short on Chloé’s testimony”, judge- she.

Faced with these accusations, Damien Abad defends himself, claiming that his disability prevents him from carrying a person, transporting them or undressing them. A defense corroborated Tuesday by the testimony of Muriel, his former caregiver. “I know Damien’s disability, I dressed him from top to bottom because he wasn’t able to do it. He can’t even button a shirt, put on socks, tie his shoes. so that the person is consenting to have sex with him because we will have to help him”, she told on RMC Story adding that she does not question the words of these women, but that she doubts the materiality of the facts.

For Marine Turchi, we must not be satisfied with the words of Damien Abad. “The judicial inquiry should obviously have taken a medical expert to find out more about Damien Abad’s disability, about his physical faculties.”

The online site is one of the pioneers in the investigation of sexual violence. These last years, Mediapart released several surveys on the subject. Investigations which concerned Christophe Ruggia, Gérald Darmanin or even recently, the journalist Patrick Poivre d’Arvor.

* Chloé is an assumed name

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