Professionals working in au-pair sector 'disturbed' by Irish woman's 'drug rape' claims
Irish au pair drugged and raped by employer, French court told
A young Irish au pair was allegedly drugged and raped by her employer in France.
A man (40) from a town to the west of Paris was arrested by police and remanded in custody while investigations into the case are under way.
The 20-year-old Irishwoman made a complaint to French police and said on the night of the alleged attack her employer gave her a glass of vodka.
After drinking it, she felt dizzy and said she remembered him kissing her before going on to rape her. She said she was aware but was unable to do anything to try to prevent the attack.
The incident happened on a holiday last summer which she had been brought on to look after the man's two-year-old son.
The man also faces similar accusations of attacking a friend of his wife in 2009.
The man was brought before a court where evidence was given that police had discovered coca leaves and traces of a plant extract, which they suspect were used to drug the women, according to a report in the 'Le Parisien' newspaper.
His wife also told police that she had separated from the man when she learned he had drugged and raped her best friend previously. Her friend spoke to the police and alleged that she was also given vodka before being raped by the man.
The alleged attacker denies all the charges.
Professionals working in the au pair sector declared yesterday they were horrified by the reports of the alleged rape.
Cormac Maher, who assists in the placement of au pairs with mainly Irish families and some families based abroad, such as Italy, through aupairireland.ie, said he found the reports "quite disturbing".
He said au pairs will in many cases have police clearance - but families themselves do not usually undergo any police vetting procedure. It was best to take whatever precautions where possible before accepting a job with a family.
"We recommend that a woman would ask a family if they have previously hired an au pair and if they would mind giving that au pair's details for a reference.
"You have to take these precautions if you are going to live with somebody you've never met before. It would be common sense as you are interviewing them as much as them interviewing you," he said.
Many families who advertise for au pairs state they have employed them in the past and that they are happy to share their information with candidates for reference purposes so that previous au pairs can be contacted, he said.
The applicant is advised to talk with the family and see them at home, and to "trust your intuition", he said.
"Au pairs, as grown adults, need to be aware of dangers in their day-to-day lives. The fact that they are going to live with somebody does not necessarily mean they are going to be nice people. As an au pair, you have to investigate or interview them as much as they interview you," he said.
A spokesman for findaupair.com advised that would-be au pairs seek references from families. "A young woman might be excited with an offer but she should take common sense steps to check. It's always better to speak on Skype and see the family and their home rather than relying on a phone call. Trust your gut inclination," he said.