Sex scandal IMF chief facing 74 years in jail
Published 17/05/2011 | 05:00
IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn was behind bars in New York last night after being denied $1m (€705,000) bail by a judge who heard details of his alleged brutal sexual attack on a hotel chambermaid.
The head of the IMF, who faces up to 74 years behind bars if convicted of a series of sex crimes, was remanded in custody as a "flight risk" after prosecutors said he would flee to Europe "just like Roman Polanski", the film director who has spent 32 years as a fugitive from the US.
It was a crushing blow for the man who was until recently being considered a front-runner for the French presidency and who oversaw world finance.
Looking tired, with a light stubble and wearing the same clothes as on Sunday, he listened as prosecutors told a Manhattan Criminal Court judge they were investigating whether he may have engaged in similar conduct once before.
Defence lawyers denied the charges against their client.
But as they did so, a French journalist yesterday added to the allegations against him by announcing that she was considering taking legal action for an alleged attack in 2002.
Tristane Banon (31) said that she had not made the formal accusation before because she had been persuaded by her mother -- a Socialist politician -- to say nothing.
It was Mr Strauss-Kahn's (62) first appearance in court since he allegedly sexually assaulted a chambermaid who came to clean his room at the Sofitel in Times Square. He was pulled off an Air France jet on Saturday, minutes before it left for Paris.
He was supposed to be in Brussels, musing with fellow members of the global elite on how to spend the hundreds of billions of euro that were at his disposal just 48 hours earlier.
Instead, at 10.50am yesterday he was led into the drab room 130 at Manhattan Criminal Court and placed beside a drug dealer who delivered takeaways for Texas Fried Chicken.
When it came to his turn, Mr Strauss-Kahn was remanded in custody. He was formally charged with six crimes relating to the alleged sexual attack.
Like every other defendant, he was made to stand and have his irises scanned to ensure he was not an impostor.
The judge set Friday as the next date for the case.
Graphic details were described by prosecutors. They alleged Mr Strauss-Kahn shut the door of his hotel room to prevent the maid from leaving.
The judge's order that Mr Strauss-Kahn should be kept in custody in New York raised further questions about his future.
The IMF board was due to meet informally yesterday for an update on its managing director.
His second in command, John Lipsky, has already been put in charge in Mr Strauss-Kahn's absence.
In an unpublished interview only two weeks before his arrest, Mr Strauss-Kahn suggested he could imagine a scenario in which he might be set up for rape. Conspiracy theories abounded in France yesterday after the publication of a curiously premonitory interview in the newspaper 'Liberation'.
In court yesterday Judge Melissa Jackson was told by prosecutors how Mr Strauss-Kahn "sexually assaulted and attempted to forcibly rape" the 32-year-old maid, an African immigrant and mother.
John McConnell, an assistant district attorney, outlined six charges in graphic detail.
The maid immediately alerted colleagues, gave a "detailed and powerful" account, and selected Mr Strauss-Kahn from an identity parade, Judge Jackson was told.
The woman underwent tests at a local hospital. "The findings during that examination corroborate her account," Mr McConnell said. Mr Strauss-Kahn had, prior to the hearing, consented to a DNA test.
Mr McConnell said Mr Strauss-Kahn should be denied bail as he had "no incentive to stay in this country and every incentive and resource to leave", with an "extensive network of contacts around the world".
Washington had no extradition arrangement with Paris, he added.