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Paris Deputy Mayor Quits After Protests Over Links to Pedophile Writer

2020-07-24 12:37:31
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PARIS — A longtime deputy mayor of Paris resigned on Thursday following protests over his links with Gabriel Matzneff, a French writer who openly promoted pedophilia for decades while benefiting from the protection of French elites.

The deputy mayor, Christophe Girard, 64, who oversees culture for the Paris government, said in a statement that he had no desire to “ruin my life any longer” nor to “justify myself permanently for something that does not exist.”

Mr. Girard’s resignation as deputy mayor — he remains a Paris city councilor — comes against a backdrop of renewed calls against impunity for sexual abuse and sexism in French society.

He had received full support from the city’s newly re-elected mayor, Anne Hidalgo, who has defended her colleague and on Thursday morning told the newspaper Le Parisien that Mr. Girard was “not in any way involved” in the case against Mr. Matzneff, adding that the accusations against the deputy mayor were unsubstantiated.

But in recent weeks, calls for Mr. Girard to step down have grown, from both activists and fellow politicians, including members of his own coalition.

Mr. Matzneff himself has spoken of his ties to the politician. In 1986, Mr. Girard, then a top aide to the designer Yves Saint Laurent, helped arrange payment for a hotel where Mr. Matzneff stayed for two years to convalesce from eye surgery, Mr. Matzneff said when interviewed earlier this year.

But Mr. Matzneff — who at the time had already published a book that offered a defense of pedophilia — used the new accommodation to continue meeting with Vanessa Springora, then a teenager, who in January released a scathing account of being abused by the writer.

The new living arrangement allowed Mr. Matzneff to evade visits from the authorities, Ms. Springora wrote.

“He cannot be deputy for culture to the mayor of Paris with what happened before,” said Alice Coffin, a Green city councilor who was protesting in front of Paris’ city hall on Thursday. “How do you expect him to be credible?”

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