The head of the International Monetary Fund and French presidential hopeful, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, 62, has been arrested in New York City, for the violent sexual assault of an African 32-year-old Sofitel hotel housekeeper.
The victim had been instructed to clean Strauss-Kahn’s $3000-a-night suite, which she thought was unoccupied, since no-one came to the door when she knocked. NYPD said the victim said that Strauss-Kahn came from out of the bathroom naked, chased her down the hallway, forced her into a bedroom, and sexually assaulted her. She said she fought, but then he dragged her into the bathroom, where he forced her to perform oral sex on him and he tried to take her underwear off. He tried to lock her into the hotel room, but she was able to escape (hotel video cameras show her running from the room) and call her boss. 911 was called by hotel staff.
Detectives arrived, but found that Strauss-Kahn had already fled, leaving personal items behind in his rush. (His driver has been heard to say that Strauss-Kahn seemed agitated and could not get to the airport fast enough.) The NYPD notified Port Authority police who arrested Strauss-Kahn on an Air France flight about to leave the gate, as he was trying to quickly leave the country. Witnesses on the airline reported that before the police arrived, Strauss-Kahn had shouted “What a great ass!” after the stewardess. Strauss-Kahn always sits in First Class on Air France flights. It is reported that DNA evidence was collected at the scene of the crime and that the police collected bloody sheets. Strauss-Kahn’s criminal defense attorney has also represented Jacob the Jeweler and Sean “Puffy” Combs.
Strauss-Kahn faces a possible sentence of 15 to 20 years, along with a potential sentence of up to five years for unlawful imprisonment. NYPD says Strauss-Kahn does not have diplomatic immunity. He was handed over to the Special Victims Unit. Strauss-Kahn’s alibi is that he was having lunch with his daughter Camille, a Columbia University political science grad student, at the time of the attack.
The maid was taken by EMS to the hospital to treat her injuries. A hotel worker described the victim as well-mannered and quiet. She was also described as a “sweet lady”, and a “good person” who is friendly and has a family. A neighbor described her as “good people” who never causes problems and is “nice”. The manager of the Sofitel said “We want to stress that our employee has been working with Sofitel New York for three years and we have been completely satisfied with the quality of her work and behavior.” The victim makes $23,000 a year; Strauss-Kahn makes in excess of $500,000 a year.
Strauss-Kahn was known to have had an extra-marital affair with a subordinate, in recent years. He is still married. The subordinate’s husband reported the affair, but even then, Strauss-Kahn was not let go by the IMF. Strauss-Kahn is unpopular with many ethnic New Yorkers due to recent actions of the IMF in Europe.
Strauss-Kahn may well be a flight risk: The French refuse to extradite Roman Polanski, who fled to France before his trial for the rape of an American 13-year-old. The girl, now a woman, says the incident ruined her life.
A young journalist, Tristane Banon (Strauss-Kahn’s second wife’s goddaughter), said that Strauss-Kahn had tried to rape her when she was 21 in an empty apartment in Paris after she had asked him for an interview. “He wanted to grab my hand while answering my questions, and then my arm. We ended up fighting, since I said clearly, ‘No, no.’ We fought on the floor, I kicked him, he undid my bra, he tried to remove my jeans,” she said. She said that she later went to a lawyer who said he had “a pile of files on Mr. Strauss-Kahn.” Banon said she was afraid to file charges due to Strauss-Kahn’s political power.
Banon’s mother later asked Strauss-Kahn why he had attacked her daughter. She said that his answer was: “I don’t know what happened, I went crazy.”
French politician Aurelie Filipetti has said that she has been groped by Strauss-Kahn and is careful now to never be alone in a room with him. The Times of London reports that a female reporter for a European paper said that in November Strauss-Kahn offered her an exclusive interview, “but I had to go and spend the weekend with him in Paris or somewhere.” “He was incredibly insistent . . . He made it almost explicit that I had to sleep with him for the interview.” A former collaborator of Strauss-Kahn wrote that Strauss-Kahn sexually assaulted a domestic worker in Mexico, while he was there on official business.
Strauss-Kahn’s third and current wife, Anne Sinclair, clearly supports his past behavior. Of the affair she wrote, “These things happen in the life of any couple.” Of the current assault charges she says “I don’t believe for a second the accusations leveled against my husband.”
UPDATE: Strauss-Kahn was picked out of a lineup on Sunday, by the victim. He is now being held at Riker’s without bail, since he is a flight risk. Strauss-Kahn has 7 charges against him, including anal sexual conduct with another person by forcible compulsion. The hospital the victim was taken to performed a standard rape exam, and a Manhattan ADA on the case said they reported that their findings were consistent with the victim’s account. An acting managing director of the IMF has been named.
UPDATE 5/17: Strauss-Kahn has now changed his story. Instead of sticking with his original story that he was having lunch with his daughter at the time of the attack, he now says that he did have sex with the maid, but that she wanted it.
-some info from: AP, nypost.com, Reuters, nytimes.com, nydailynews.com, dailymail.co.uk, abcnews.go.com, TODAY Show