French ex-minister Georges Tron face trial for rape
A French mayor and ex-government minister has gone on trial accused of raping two former municipal employees.
Both women allege that Georges Tron, mayor of Draveil, assaulted them between 2007 and 2010 alongside a female councillor, Brigitte Gruel.
They say the pair invited them for foot massage sessions before attacking them. Mr Tron and Ms Gruel deny wrongdoing.
Mr Tron resigned as junior minister for civil service when the allegations surfaced in 2011.
A defence lawyer quoted by AFP news agency argues that political opponents used Mr Tron's practice of reflexology to portray him as a fetishist and a criminal.
Mr Tron and Mrs Gruel, who are both 60, went on trial on Tuesday in Bobigny, north of Paris, on charges of group rape.
The nature of their alleged offences means they would be classified as assault by penetration in the UK.
Their accusers, Virginie Ettel and Eva Loubrieu, say that when they were hired Mr Tron told them he was a keen practitioner of reflexology.
They say they were pressured into taking part in reflexology sessions, some of them conducted with Ms Gruel.
The sessions began with foot massages, but developed into sexual assault and rape, the former employees contend.
In 2010 Ms Ettel quit her secretarial job after two years and tried to commit suicide, Le Monde reports. Ms Loubrieu, who was hired in 2007, was sacked for alleged theft in 2009, the newspaper adds.
The defendants could face sentences of up to 20 years in jail if convicted.