A deputy mayor of Paris who resigned last month in the face of protests over his links to an author who made no secret of his paedophilia, has himself been accused of sexually abusing a minor in a New York Times report he has vehemently denied.
Christophe Girard resigned as deputy to Mayor Anne Hidalgo in July afer opposition politicians and women's groups demanded his suspension over ties to Gabriel Matzneff, an award-winning writer who has never hid his preference for sex with adolescent girls and boys.
On Sunday, the New York Times reported the allegations of Aniss Hmaid, now 46, that Girard had sexually abused him over nearly a decade after they met in Tunisia when he was 15.
Hmaid claimed that Girard sexually abused him when he was 16, and then coerced him into sex on about 20 further occasions over several years.
The article carried a photograph of the two together in France in the late 1990s.
Girard, in a statement issued by his lawyer Delphine Meillet Sunday rejected the accusations "with the utmost firmness".
"It is the word of the accuser against the word of the accused in a court of public opinion, where too often presumption of guilt in matters of sexual offences wins out over presumption of innocence," she added.
- 'Scorched earth' -
Girard, who was in charge of cultural affairs for the Paris government until his resignation, was questioned in March in connection with an ongoing investigation into Matzneff following claims by Vanessa Springora of an under-age relationship with the author.
Matzneff is to stand trial next year on a charge of justifying paedophilia, and prosecutors launched a rape investigation the day after Springora's bestselling book, "Consent", was published.
A second woman has also claimed she was groomed and controlled by the writer.
Girard was an senior executive at Yves-Saint Laurent in 1986 and 1987, when the design house provided financial support to Matzneff.
Matzneff had told the New York Times that thanks to Girard, he was able to stay for free at a hotel for two years with Springora.
In her book, Springora said staying at the hotel allowed Matzneff to evade police.
Upon tendering his resignation last month, Girard told AFP he had no desire to have questions over his relationship with Matzneff "ruin" his life nor did he feel he had to "justify myself permanently for something that does not exist."
Hmaid claims that in exchange for sex, Girard employed him occasionally as a domestic servant at his summer home in southern France and gave him temporary jobs at Yves Saint Laurent.
"He took advantage of my youth, of my young age and everything for his sexual pleasures," Hmaid told the New York Times from his home near Paris.
"It ruined my life, in fact. Today, I consider myself scorched earth."