Joel Guerriau, a senator representing Loire-Atlantique in western France, was arrested at his Paris residence on Thursday following allegations that he spiked the drink of Sandrine Josso, a 48-year-old member of the National Assembly, the lower house of the French Parliament, according to France 24.
The Paris prosecutor’s office announced on Friday that Guerriau, 66, is under investigation for possession and use of illicit drugs, as well as for administering mind-altering substances to another individual without their consent with the intent to commit rape or sexual assault. This offense carries a maximum penalty of five years imprisonment and a fine of approximately $82,000, France 24 reported.
In the French legal system, preliminary charges indicate that investigating magistrates have substantial grounds to suspect wrongdoing but require further time before making a decision about whether to proceed with a trial.
Josso, 48, filed a criminal complaint after experiencing ill effects from consuming a beverage at Guerriau’s residence on Tuesday evening and subsequent medical tests revealed the presence of ecstasy in her system, according to investigators.
Despite their long-standing friendship, the lawmakers were not romantically involved, prosecutors confirmed.
Julia Minkowski, Josso’s attorney, told AFP on Friday that her client “remains in a state of shock.”
She explained that Josso felt unwell after consuming a glass of champagne at Guerriau’s home and observed her host “retrieving a small plastic bag containing a white substance from a drawer in his kitchen.”
“She had to muster an extraordinary amount of physical and mental strength to overcome her terror and extricate herself from this ambush at the last minute,” Minkowski stated.
“This is compounded by a sense of betrayal and utter bewilderment – Joël Guerriau had been a friend for approximately ten years in whom she had unwavering trust.”
Guerriau, a banker and first elected to the senate in 2011, has been placed under judicial supervision and is barred from visiting Josso’s home or contacting her or any witnesses, according to prosecutors and his lawyer, Remi-Pierre Drai.
Drai informed the outlet that Guerriau vehemently denies any intention to assault his colleague.
“Joel Guerriau is not a predator,” Drai asserted.
“He is an honorable, respected, and respectable man who will restore his honor and that of his family.“