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article imageCanadian tourist in Paris police rape case says 'worst mistake' was visiting police HQ

By Francis CURTA (AFP)     Jan 16, 2019 in World

A Canadian tourist who says she was gang-raped by French officers at police headquarters in Paris told a court on Wednesday that agreeing to visit their offices was the "worst mistake of my life".

Emily Spanton, 39, returned to the island in central Paris where the alleged attack took place to testify at the trial of two officers accused of raping her in a building situated next door to the courthouse.

At times close to tears, she admitted she was drunk when she met the men in a bar near their offices on April 22, 2014.

The officers later invited her back to 36 Quai des Orfevres, the fabled headquarters of the Paris criminal police, which features in the Maigret detective novels of writer Georges Simenon.

She claims she was raped there by up to three policemen in a case that caused shock in France, where the "36" was long revered as a centre of crime-fighting excellence.

Spanton, who lived in Toronto at the time, admitted to flirting with the officers in the bar, in poor French, but after drinking a while found she had "no idea what they were saying".

The accused -- 49-year-old Nicolas R. and 40-year-old Antoine Q., whose full names cannot be given under French law -- then invited her to visit their offices on the other side of the Seine river.

- 'Something I would want to see' -

"They explained the police station had been the subject of films, and made it sound like something I would want to see," she told the jury.

"And I thought that going to a police station would sober me up as there would be plenty of lights and people."

But in the middle of the night, their 5th-floor offices were empty.

Spanton said she forced to drink whisky before being pushed to her knees.

"Someone was forcing himself inside my mouth," she said, adding that her hot pants and tights were then ripped off.

Spanton said she was raped by up to three men, though she admitted to being too drunk and stunned to identify a third suspect. She also said that her glasses were taken from her and she was too short-sighted to see clearly.

"I just gave up; just wanted it to be over," she said, denying that she had encouraged the men to engage in sex.

"I kept my eyes closed," she added, while trying not to look at the accused who sat within a couple of feet of her.

The two accused deny rape, but one said he and Spanton had kissed, while the other admitted that she had performed oral sex on him, but said she had consented.

DNA from three men was found on her underwear, though only that of the two accused could be identified.

- Told to 'go home' -

On leaving the station, Spanton told police on duty downstairs she had been raped, but said she was treated like a drunk and told to "go home".

A few hours later she filed a complaint at another police station.

Investigators said medical tests revealed she had taken a cocktail of anti-depressant medication, opiates and cannabis on the night of the alleged assault.

Spanton, who said she has been unable to work in the four years since the attack, said she was on medically-prescribed drugs at the time.

The two defendants, who have retained their jobs, face up to 20 years' imprisonment if found guilty.

They wiped all messages and videos from the night from their mobile phones, but one message found on a colleague's phone suggested they were preparing to engage in sex.

In 2016, investigative magistrates decided to drop the case against them, suggesting Spanton's claims were confused, but prosecutors later demanded a trial.

The Paris criminal police department was at the centre of several scandals in 2014 and 2015.

A few months after the alleged rapes, the "36" was back in the headlines after 50 kilogrammes (110 pounds) of seized cocaine, with an estimated street value of two million euros ($2.2 million), vanished from a secure room in the building. Two officers were later jailed over the theft.

In 2015, the head of the Paris criminal police, Bernard Petit, was suspended after allegedly leaking sensitive information to another senior police officer being investigated over fake documents.

Last year, the force moved to new headquarters in northwest Paris.

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