French Budget Minister Gérald Darmanin leaves the Elysee presidential palace in Paris after a weekly cabinet meeting on July 19, 2017. (Martin Bureau/AFP/Getty Images)

A rape accusation against France's budget minister is roiling the government of President Emmanuel Macron, threatening to claim another casualty in an upheaval over sexual assault allegations.

The minister, Gérald Darmanin, stands accused in an incident dating to 2009.

As prosecutors reopened an investigation into the conduct of the 35-year-old minister — who denies any wrongdoing — his political opponents called for his resignation. But in a society in the middle of a bitter debate over sexual assault, Darmanin's government colleagues are standing by him — for now — while insisting on due process and the presumption of innocence at a time when both concepts have fallen under intense public scrutiny.

"The Prime Minister wishes to assure on the one hand that the rules determining membership in the government are known, and on the other hand that Mr. Darmanin has his full confidence," the office of Prime Minister Édouard Philippe said in an emailed statement.

But France's mainstream center-right Republican party seized the opportunity to demand Monday that Darmanin step down. Some see in that intervention a hint of political revenge: Darmanin is a former member of the party who was expelled last year for having defected to Macron's centrist coalition.

"We respect the presumption of innocence," a Republican party spokeswoman said in a statement. "But given the serious charges that have been raised, and for the serenity of public action, we think he has no choice but to resign."

Beyond politics, the particular charges have elicited a tremendous public outcry.

For the second time, the same woman, Sophie Spatz — a former call girl whose birth name is Olga Patterson, according to French media — has accused Darmanin of forcing her to have sex with him in 2009 in exchange for his intervention in a personal legal matter.

Spatz, 46, first filed a complaint against Darmanin last year, after he joined Macron's government, but the case was closed when she failed to attend a mandatory police interview. Earlier this month, however, she filed a second complaint, and prosecutors have reopened the case.

In 2004, Spatz was given a suspended sentence of 10 months in prison and ordered to pay 15,000 euros (about $18,600 at the time) in damages for blackmail, among other crimes. Her side of the story was that she harassed her then-partner to get back money that he had stolen from her, according to Le Monde. As a conservative voter, Spatz then sought her party's assistance in fighting that judgment in 2009. The party, the predecessor of today's Republicans, assigned Darmanin, then 26 and a low-level party official, to help her.

In an interview with Le Monde, Spatz alleged that Darmanin — after hearing the details of her case — suggestively placed his hand on hers. "You will have to help me as well," she quoted him as saying. She said that she told him she should go home to her husband but that Darmanin pressed her to accompany him to a Parisian sex club called Les Chandelles , Spatz told Le Monde.

"To seduce, to be seduced, to be desiring, to be desired are the fundamentals of Les Chandelles," its website reads.

The two then ended up at a cheap hotel nearby, by her account. Spatz sent Darmanin out to buy shower gel and toothpaste, then hid in the bathroom "to postpone the fateful moment to the maximum," according to a statement one of her lawyers gave to Le Monde. "Nevertheless, realizing that the act was still 'on the program,' " the statement said, "she had to end up bowing to it, despite all these stall tactics."

As the pressure has increased for his resignation, Darmanin's colleagues — notably female cabinet members — have stood by him.

Speaking on French radio Monday morning, Justice Minister Nicole Belloubet said Darmanin "can stay in the government" for the time being, insofar as no formal charges are brought. Marlène Schiappa, France's gender equality minister, had little to say besides observing that "it is important for the judiciary to be able to work calmly."

Amid the furor that has consumed French public discourse for months — drawing a range of comments from actresses and writers such as Catherine Deneuve, Leïla Slimani and Brigitte Bardot — Schiappa has been among the staunchest crusaders against sexual assault. She has even advocated fines for men who catcall in the street.

On a political level, the renewed allegations against Darmanin appear likely to add to a recent spate of embarrassments for Macron. In an administration that has been in power for less than a year, four other prominent members have stepped down over charges relating to political corruption.

Furthermore, France's culture minister, Françoise Nyssen, was forced over the weekend to withdraw a series of commemorative books that contained an entry on Charles Maurras, an infamous French anti-Semite. Before backing down Sunday morning under intense pressure, Nyssen first attempted to defend including Maurras.