France: Witnesses back women in post-MeToo defamation trial

France: Witnesses back women in post-MeToo defamation trial
FILE - In this Wednesday, Sept. 5, 2012, file photo, France's former Minister of Territorial Equality and Housing Cecile Duflot leaves the Elysee Palace after the weekly cabinet meeting in Paris. Duflot, also former head of the Green Party, testified Thursday Feb.7, 2019 as a witness at Paris court where six French women stand trial in a defamation lawsuit brought by a former Green lawmaker they accused of sexual misconduct 1½ years before the #MeToo movement. (AP Photo/Francois Mori, File)

PARIS (AP) — Former officials of France’s Green Party say they should have acted earlier on reports of sexual misconduct by an ex-lawmaker accused by six women of harassment and abuse.

The ex-politicians were testifying Thursday at a Paris trial prompted by Denis Baupin, a former Green Party politician and Paris city official who has brought a defamation case against the women.

In 2016, French media published accounts from 14 women who alleged Baupin had groped, sexted and otherwise harassed them.

Baupin denied wrongdoing and sued the women named in the reports.

Former party chief Cecile Duflot told the court Thursday she suffered an attempted sexual assault from Baupin in 2008 and was aware of other incidents related to Baupin, and regretted she didn’t speak out partly to protect the party.