DOMINIQUE Strauss-Kahn was seen entering a lift with a mystery woman the night before he allegedly tried to rape a New York hotel maid, it was reported yesterday.
Video cameras picked up the pair entering a lift at 1.20am on May 14, just hours before the alleged assault, according to a law enforcement official.
Two hotel workers also told investigators that the 62-year-old former International Monetary Fund chief had invited them to his suite the same night, and that they had separately declined.
In any case, the morning after the reported sighting of the mystery woman, Mr Strauss-Kahn ordered room service breakfast for one.
The report came as French prosecutors launched an inquiry into a female novelist's claim that Mr Strauss-Kahn attempted to rape her in a Paris apartment in 2003.
They will be seeking to verify allegations made by Tristane Banon (32) that he tried to unhook her bra and open her jeans like a "rutting chimpanzee" during a pre-arranged interview for a book she was writing.
Her lawyer filed the criminal complaint earlier this week over theincident.
The case is a fresh headache for the Socialist heavyweight who was once tipped to beat President Nicolas Sarkozy in next year's elections.
His political career appeared finished after his arrest in New York in May on sex assault charges.
But his allies predicted his triumphant return, perhaps even as the Socialist party's presidential candidate, when doubts emerged over the alleged victim's credibility last week in New York.
In the latest allegation, Ms Banon's lawyer David Koubbi said on Thursday that there was "physical" evidence in the case and would not be "word against word".
In an interview with 'L'Express' this week, Ms Banon said: "We started talking a bit, I got out my Dictaphone, he wanted us to go on the couch, then that I hold his hand to reply -- 'Otherwise I won't manage,' he said.
"I wanted to leave. He stopped the Dictaphone, caught me by the arm. I asked him to let me go, and that's when the fight started."
She goes on to mention "his fingers in my mouth", "his hand in my knickers after having pulled off my jeans and bra under my black polo neck."
Henri Leclerc, Mr Strauss-Kahn's Paris lawyer, said that he was considering suing Ms Banon for "slanderous-denunciation" and that her claims were "imaginary". (© Daily Telegraph, London)