Canadian tourist says she was gang-raped at Paris police headquarters

Canadian tourist says she was gang-raped at Paris police headquarters

She agreed to visit the headquarters after drinking with the officers at a bar

Emily Spanton (left) arrives at the trial accompanied by her lawyers.

Emily Spanton (left) arrives at the trial accompanied by her lawyers.

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".

Testifying at the trial of two of the officers in a courthouse next door to the scene of the alleged attack, Emily Spanton, 39, admitted she was drunk when she met the men in a bar near their offices.

Spanton said she went out just "to have some fun" on April 22, 2014 but wound up in 36 Quai des Orfevres, the fabled headquarters of the Paris criminal police on the Seine river, which features in the Maigret detective novels of writer Georges Simenon.

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

Spanton met the officers, who were among a group of around 10 policemen, while drinking at a bar directly across the Seine river from their offices.

She admitted to flirting with the group but after drinking a while found she had "no idea what they were saying".

The accused - named as 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.

"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 was offered a large glass of whiskey and took "a sip just to be polite".

She was forced to swallow most of the alcohol before being pushed to her knees.

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

She 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, making her unable 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.

The two accused deny rape, but one said he and Spanton had kissed, while the other admitted to fellatio, 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 she had been raped, but said she was treated as a drunk and told to "go home".

She later went to another police station to file a complaint.

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

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.

The following year, the head of the force, Bernard Petit, was suspended after allegedly leaking sensitive information to another senior police officer being investigated over fake documents.