French budget chief under pressure after rape accusation

FeaturesAssociated Press

Pressure is mounting on a member of French President Emmanuel Macron's government accused of rape.

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Budget Minister Gerald Darmanin strongly denies wrongdoing, and other government members have rallied around him. Darmanin is the highest-ranking French official accused of sexual misconduct since the Hollywood scandals that broke last year.

Nearly 3,000 people signed an online petition launched by a feminist group urging the prime minister to fire Darmanin. It argues that ministers facing corruption investigations have lost their jobs in the past, and asks whether being accused of a sexual crime "is less serious."

Prime Minister Edouard Philippe's office said Monday that he continues to have confidence in Darmanin.

A preliminary investigation is underway into an accusation that Darmanin raped her when she sought legal help in 2009.

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