French deputy speaker quits in sexual harassment scandal

Paris - A deputy speaker of France's parliament, Denis Baupin, resigned his post on Monday over sexual harassment allegations, some dating back more than 15 years, which he vehemently denies.

Baupin, formerly of the ecologist EELV party, who is married to Housing Minister Emmanuelle Cosse, denies all the allegations made by four women from the party and will sue them for defamation, his lawyer said.

Parliament speaker Claude Bartolone had summoned Baupin, who is one of the parliament's six deputy speakers, earlier Monday and "asked him to resign as deputy speaker," the National Assembly said in a statement.

The four women made the accusations against Baupin to French media.

One accuser, Sandrine Rousseau, told the Mediapart website and France Inter radio that Baupin made an aggressive pass at her in October 2011 during a party meeting near Paris.

"At one point I wanted to take a break," she said. "Denis Baupin appeared in the corridor outside... He pinned me against the wall with his chest and tried to kiss me. I pushed him away vigorously." The encounter made Rousseau, who was vice president of a regional council in northern France, "very uneasy", she said.

"I immediately thought that it was absolutely not normal that this should happen to me. But I thought of it as sexual aggression much later," she said.

Isabelle Attard, who quit the EELV party in December 2013, said Baupin subjected her to "almost daily harassment with provocative, salacious text messages".

Two other elected Green party members, Elen Debost, who is deputy mayor of the central city of Le Mans, and Annie Lahmer, a member of the Paris regional government, have also accused Baupin of sexual impropriety.

Lahmer says the incidents date back more than 15 years.