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French women put on defense in post-#MeToo defamation trial

By The News · 03 of February 2019 16:30:00
FILE - In this Nov. 18, 2017 file photo, French secretary of state for women's rights Marlene Schiappa delivers a speech in Chassieu, near Lyon, central France. Twelve women, journalists and witnesses go on trial Monday Feb. 4, 2019, for alleged defamation of prominent French lawmaker Denis Baupin after their accusations of sexual misconduct forced his resignation, although Baupin denied any misconduct, and Marlene Schiappa has said she would not specifically comment on the case because it's up to justice to decide. (AP Photo/Laurent Cipriani, File), No available, FILE - In this Nov. 18, 2017 file photo, French secretary of state for women's rights Marlene Schiappa delivers a speech in Chassieu, near Lyon, central France. Twelve women, journalists and witnesses go on trial Monday Feb. 4, 2019, for alleged defamation of prominent French lawmaker Denis Baupin after their accusations of sexual misconduct forced his resignation, although Baupin denied any misconduct, and Marlene Schiappa has said she would not specifically comment on the case because it's up to justice to decide. (AP Photo/Laurent Cipriani, File)

PARIS (AP) — A former French lawmaker’s defamation lawsuit against six women who accused him of sexual misconduct and four journalists who reported the allegations is going to trial in what some fear illustrates a backlash against the #MeToo movement.

In May 2016, investigative news website Mediapart and radio station France Inter published and broadcast accounts from 14 women who alleged Denis Baupin had groped, sexted and otherwise harassed them.

The prominent Green Party member resigned as vice president of the lower house of parliament when the reports came out. He denied wrongdoing and sued the journalists, six of the accusers and two men who said they witnessed some of the alleged misbehavior.

The trial opens Monday in Paris. In France, defamation is punishable by a maximum fine of 45,000 euros ($51,500).