DOMINIQUE Strauss-Kahn had no way of knowing that he was sleeping with prostitutes during swinger sessions because "the women were all naked at the time", his lawyer has claimed, amid allegations that his mobile phone records showed he had relationships with 10 call girls.
Recent disclosures have established the sexual appetite of the 62-year-old one-time French presidential favourite. But the new records could help police determine whether the former IMF chief was aware that the women with whom he had sexual intercourse had been paid for their services.
Using prostitutes is legal in France if the women are over 18, but Mr Strauss-Kahn could face charges if the case expands to cover graft or procuring.
The 10 French or Belgian women to whom police traced calls to Mr Strauss-Kahn all claim to have had paid sex with him while he was IMF chief, up to his arrest last May on charges that he tried to rape a New York hotel chambermaid.
But in his defence, Mr Strauss-Kahn's lawyer Henri Leclerc said his client could have been "totally unaware" that the women were prostitutes.
"At these parties, people were not necessarily dressed, and I defy you to tell the difference between a naked prostitute and any other naked woman," he said. Police are seeking to clarify Mr Strauss-Kahn's role as they investigate a prostitute network operating out of a hotel in Lille, northern France, called the Carlton.
About eight leading local figures are under investigation in connection with the Lille network, including the director of the hotel, a businessman with ties to Mr Strauss-Kahn's party, a police chief and a construction company executive. All deny any wrongdoing.
Several women allegedly belonging to this network had intercourse with Mr Strauss-Kahn. Two women said together they were paid €1,600 per session by two men under investigation in the Carlton affair.
Mr Strauss-Kahn admits taking part in orgies as part of his "uninhibited sex life", but says that "he never paid a centime" and never asked if his partners were being paid.
The former Socialist politician has asked to speak to investigators in the case to try to end the "dangerous and malicious insinuations".
The mobile linking Mr Strauss-Kahn to the 10 women belonged to Fabrice Paszkowski, a Lille-based businessman currently under investigation for "aggravated procuring by an organised group".
Mr Paszkowski mislaid it during an encounter involving Mr Strauss-Kahn and four women in a Paris hotel in February last year.
DSK, as the French call him, later allegedly retrieved the phone, using it to contact his friend and arrange meetings with women in the three months leading up to his arrest in New York.
The charges were dropped and Mr Strauss-Kahn has been tentatively seeking to return to public life. (© Daily Telegraph, London)