- Oops!Something went wrong.Please try again later.
Residents a French town on the outskirts of Paris are mounting a bid to oust their mayor who is continuing to run the town from his prison cell, despite being convicted of rape.
Georges Tron, 63, a former Sarkozy minister, has been the mayor of Draveil since 1995, was found guilty of rape and sexual assault in February and sentenced to five years in prison.
The conviction was initially seen as a huge victory for France’s Me Too movement, with activists hopeful that such a high-profile case would send a strong message to similar perpetrators.
But Tron appealed, and under French law is allowed to hold his post until a final verdict is reached due to presumption of innocence. The 63-year-old continues to communicate with his staff by letters, which are read out loud at municipal council meetings.
“Until there is evidence that proves otherwise, [Tron] is still the mayor,” his deputy, Richard Prviat, told French television France 3 outside of a heated recent council meeting. “No one has removed him from his post so he is still mayor.”
François Damerval, a local opposition official, said presumption of innocence aside, Tron could still be removed from office under administrative sanctions.
“But so far, the higher administration officials who have this power are refusing to exercise it,” he said, adding “it’s just shocking that we can let a man convicted of rape continue to continue to hold office from prison.”
When asked about ordering Tron’s removal in March, the French Justice Minister Eric Dupond-Moretti said the judiciary needed to remain independent from the case.
In an emotional exchange on the senate floor, Socialist senator Laurence Rouissignol insisted to Dupond-Moretti that the government had the authority to remove Tron.
She also noted that Dupond-Moretti served as one of Tron’s defense lawyers in his initial 2018 trial.
Accusations against Tron began over a decade ago, when he was forced to resign from his post as a junior minister under President Nicolas Sarkozy. Two former female staff members alleged that between 2007 to 2010, Tron forced them to accept foot massages which transitioned into rape and sexual assault.
Tron has always denied the accusations, insisting he was simply interested in reflexology. He was initially acquitted on all charges in 2018, but in mid-February, an appeals court overturned the initial verdict and sided with one of the women, handing Tron a five-year sentence.
Draveil residents remain divided on whether or not Tron should resign.
When asked about Tron in late April, one resident in the town of 30,000 told French television: “He’s a good mayor, he’s been elected five times, and not for nothing!”
Meanwhile, a group of local activists have founded Not in Draveil or Anywhere Else (NADA), a collective that has been organising demonstrations calling for Tron’s resignation.
Earlier this week, members of the collective stood in front of the town hall wearing chicken masks and holding signs calling for local officials to “end their deafening silence” and immediately remove Tron.