“I thought I was dying”: Drugged French senator speaks out

Sandrine Josso
Sandrine Josso Copyright BERTRAND GUAY/AFP
By Katy Dartford with AFP, AP
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MP Sandrine Josso has made her first public testimony since she accused another lawmaker of drugging her.


French lawmaker Joel Guerriau was detained for 48 hours on Friday and handed preliminary charges for drugging another lawmaker with the aim of rape or sexual assault.

Less than a week after the alleged incident, that lawmaker, Sandrine Josso told TV channel, France 5 she "just had the necessary survival instinct”. 

The alleged incident occurred Tuesday evening in the senator’s apartment. 

Josso, a member of the lower house of parliament representing the Loire-Atlantique region with the centrist Modem party, said she went "with confidence" and "friendship" to celebrate the re-election of her colleague, Guerriau, who also represents the Loire-Atlantique region.

Josso said 66-year-old Guerriau was “a friend for ten years” who “insisted” on toasting with champagne several times, which, she noted had an unusual “sweet” taste.

Joel Guerriau
Joel GuerriauHANDOUT/AFP

The MP said she was surprised that Guerriau was playing with the light dimmer in the living room.

“He turned the light on very brightly, then turned it down".  

Doctors at the Lariboisière hospital where she ended up spending the night later explained to her that the technique is known to “increase the effectiveness of the drug”.

Seized with "palpitations" and "sweating", Josso said she saw her host put "a white bag under the work surface" in the kitchen.  The police later found ecstasy there during a search.

At that point Josso said she "understood" she was "already under the influence of drugs...my legs were shaking,” she continued. 

She managed to order a taxi, but realised that Guerriau had followed her "in the elevator, in the courtyard, to the taxi".

“I was panicked, my heart was beating... I felt like I was having a heart attack,” said Josso, adding that she is still “in post-trauma” and “jumps all the time.”

Josso says she now wants to make her case an example: "We can all suffer what I suffered" and it is "(her) duty to raise awareness", but also to "urge the government to do something about this scourge" of chemical submission.

The French Senate
The French SenateFrancois Mori/AP

As for her alleged attacker, “I don’t care about him, he does what he has to do,” she said.

His lawyer said Guerriau didn’t intend to drug Josso to abuse her and has apologised to her. In a statement, lawyer Remi-Pierre Drai said ‘’it was a handling error’’ that caused the lawmaker to fall ill. He did not elaborate.

"Joel Guerriau is not a predator,’’ the lawyer said. “He is an honest, respected and respectable man who will restore his honour and that of his family however long it takes.’’

Preliminary charges under French law mean investigating magistrates have strong reason to suspect wrongdoing but allow more time before determining whether to send a case to trial.

After the charges were announced, the centre-right Horizons political group announced his suspension, saying that it ‘’will never tolerate the slightest complacency toward sexual and sexist violence.'' 


Horizons is allied in parliament with President Emmanuel Macron's Renaissance party.

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