French environment chief denies sexual misconduct claims

February 8, 2018

FILE - In this Thursday, Dec. 6 2012 file photo, environmental activist Nicolas Hulot, smiles as he leaves the Elysee Palace in Paris, France. President Emmanuel Macron's environment minister, Nicolas Hulot, is vigorously denying reports that two women accused him of sexual misconduct. (AP Photo/Michel Euler, File)

PARIS (AP) — President Emmanuel Macron’s environment minister on Thursday vigorously denied a report of alleged sexual misconduct that occurred earlier in his career.

Nicolas Hulot, a popular former TV star, came close to tears as he told BFM television how the allegations are devastating his family and putting him in a “crazy rage.” Macron and his prime minister offered Hulot their support.

French magazine Ebdo is publishing a report Friday saying that two women had accused Hulot of misconduct early in his career. The report, obtained Thursday by The Associated Press, claims that Hulot abandoned two potential presidential bids out of fear that the accusations would become public.

Hulot acknowledged on BFM that a woman had filed a legal complaint against him in 2008 for alleged sexual misconduct in 1997. Hulot said the case was dropped for lack of evidence, and gave no details.

According to Ebdo, the woman said Hulot forced her to have sex in one of his homes when she was 20 and he was 42 but she initially feared reporting it to police.

Hulot denied any wrongdoing. “Do you think that I benefit from immunity thanks to my fame, and that if there had been a rape case with an underage girl they (the police) would have let me go and said ‘Thank you Mr. Hulot for coming and have a good weekend’? No,” Hulot said on BFM.

Ebdo says another woman, a former employee of his environmental foundation, accused him of sexual wrongdoing and was allegedly paid to keep silent. Hulot said nothing happened and he paid no one off.

“It’s a nightmare,” Hulot said of the accusations. “It touches my family, my children and here I want to set things straight: I say stop.”

He said he hasn’t thought of resigning but said “my family comes first ... That’s what will guide my decision.”

Macron offered his support during a Cabinet meeting Thursday, according to the government spokesman. Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said in a statement that “we have no reason to doubt” Hulot’s word.

Hulot is the second French government minister to face accusations of sexual wrongdoing since the wave of revelations from Hollywood last year spread to other countries and industries.

French authorities are investigating an accusation that Budget Minister Gerald Darmanin raped a woman who was seeking his legal help. He says it’s a lie and countersued for false denunciations.

Update hourly