Thursday 18 January 2018

IMF chief called ‘The Great Seducer’ appears in court

International Monetary Fund chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn, in handcuffs, is walked to a police vehicle outside of a New York City Police Department facility on W. 123rd St. Photo: Getty Images

Jon Swaine and reporters

International Monetary Fund chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn allegedly forced a chambermaid at a five star New York City hotel to perform oral sex and submit to anal sex, according to a complaint filed today by the office of Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance.

He also tried to rape her according to the complaint which charges him with two counts of criminal sexual act in the first degree, one count of attempted rape, sexual abuse in the first degree, unlawful imprisonment, sexual abuse in the third degree and forcible touching.

In a one page document it is alleged that he forcibly touched the woman’s breasts, attempted to pull off her panty hose, twice "forcibly made contact with his penis and the informant's mouth" and that "the defendant engaged in oral sexual conduct and anal sexual conduct with another person by forcible compulsion."

Looking strained and pale and wearing a black raincoat and light coloured shirt, Strauss-Kahn sat briefly next to other alleged criminals at the Criminal Court building.

He initially appeared in the court presided over by Judge Melissa Jackson, then left again through the door leading to holding cells.

Strauss-Kahn (62) has yet to enter a plea but the DA has asked that he be held in jail.

He made his first court appearance this afternoon after he submitted to a forensic medical examination with police.

Late on Sunday night, after police, court officials and reporters had waited more than eight hours for him to appear, Mr Strauss-Kahn's legal team announced that he would be undergoing further tests before being formally charged.

"Our client willingly consented to a scientific and forensic examination tonight," said William Taylor, the IMF chief's Washington-based lawyer. "He's tired but he's fine."

Mr Strauss-Kahn was arrested and provisionally charged by police in the early hours of Sunday morning, after being seized on an Air France jet waiting to take off on the tarmac of New York's John F. Kennedy Airport.

The prominent French socialist, who was expected to challenge Nicolas Sarkozy's presidency next year, allegedly assaulted a 32-year-old maid who had arrived to clean his £1,855-a-night suite at the luxury Sofitel near Times Square, at 1pm on Saturday.

William Taylor, a lawyer for Mr Strauss-Kahn, said outside the court on Sunday night: "Our client willingly consented to a scientific forensic examination tonight," adding: "Because of the hour, we've agreed to postpone the arraignment until tomorrow morning."

Asked how his client was, Mr Taylor said: "He's tired". Mr Strauss-Kahn was later humiliatingly pictured being taken in handcuffs from the Harlem police station where he was being held..

His other lawyer, Benjamin Brafman, said: "He intends to vigorously defend these charges and denies any wrongdoing." Mr Strauss-Kahn's wife, Anne Sinclair, a French television journalist, said: "His innocence will be established".

The maid alleged "he came out of the bathroom naked, ran down a hallway to ... where she was, pulled her into a bedroom and began to sexually assault her," said Paul Browne, a New York Police Department spokesman.

"She pulled away from him and he dragged her down a hallway into the bathroom, where he engaged in a criminal sexual act, according to her account to detectives. He tried to lock her in the hotel room."

Mr Strauss-Kahn then allegedly left for JFK airport, leaving his mobile phone and other belongings. "It looked like he got out of there in a hurry," said Mr Browne.

The IMF chief reportedly has a special deal with the airline whereby he can obtain First Class tickets for any available flight at very short notice. A spokesman said she "could not discuss what arrangement he might have".

After he called the hotel from John F. Kennedy airport asking about his phone, police located him on the first-class section of an Air France flight bound for Paris.

He was dramatically detained by plainclothes detectives onboard the First Class cabin of AF flight 23, which was 10 minutes from take-off, at about 4.40pm on Saturday.

He reportedly asked: "What is this about?" before complying, and was not handcuffed. "If we had been 10 minutes later he would have been in the air on his way to Paris," said Mr Browne.

Officers first responded to a 911 call from a hotel colleague of the maid, who was later treated in hospital for "minor injuries."

Mr Strauss-Kahn was questioned by the NYPD Special Victims Unit before being arrested and charged. He was identified by the alleged victim in a line-up, police said on Sunday night.

The maid had been working at the hotel for three years and was described as a “completely satisfactory” employee, her bosses said.

IMF officials enjoy diplomatic immunity for acts carried out "in their official capacity" but this does not apply to Mr Strauss-Kahn in this case, said Mr Browne.

John Sheehan, director of safety and security at the Sofitel, which boasts "luxury with a French flair", said: "We are working very closely with the NYPD on their investigation."

Mr Strauss-Kahn, a former economics professor, lawyer and finance minister, has since 2007 been the managing director of the Washington-based IMF, which loans money to countries in economic crisis.

He stood for the Socialist party's 2007 presidential candidacy but was defeated by Segolene Royal, who went on to lose the general election to Mr Sarkozy.

He was expected to seek his party's nomination for the 2012 presidential election but complained Mr Sarkozy had begun a "smear campaign" against him.

Martine Aubry, the Socialist leader, described the news as a "thunderbolt" that left her "astounded".

Mr Strauss-Kahn had been due to meet Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, for talks yesterday.

Labelled "The Great Seducer" by the French media, Mr Strauss-Kahn has been criticised for his behaviour towards women.

Tristane Banon, a French writer, claimed she fended him off with kicks and punches during an alleged encounter.

In 2008 he admitted to an affair with Piroska Nagy, a senior IMF official. Afterwards he said he had made an "error of judgment".

Meanwhile, woman who says she was sexually assaulted by Strauss-Kahn nine years ago in France intends to lodge a legal complaint against the International Monetary Fund chief.

Her Parisian lawyer David Koubbi said Tristane Banon did not act earlier due to "pressures" she faced over the alleged 2002 sexual assault by Strauss-Kahn and was dissuaded by her own mother, a regional Socialist official.

Mr Koubbi said he is likely to take action on behalf of Ms Banon now because "she knows she'll be heard and she knows she'll be taken seriously."

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