IMF head to remain in jail until next court appearance
CTV.ca News Staff
Published Monday, May 16, 2011 9:36PM EDT
The head of the International Monetary Fund, who stands accused of sexually assaulting a hotel maid, has been denied bail by a New York City court and will remain in jail until his next appearance on Friday.
Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the French managing director of the IMF -- and a leading contender to challenge French President Nicolas Sarkozy next year -- is in custody in Manhattan as officers investigate the allegations.
Strauss-Kahn faces charges of attempted rape, criminal sexual contact and unlawful imprisonment.
The alleged victim in the case says she entered his prestigious $3,000-a-night penthouse suite at the Sofitel hotel, believing it was empty. Instead, she alleges that Strauss-Kahn emerged from a bathroom naked, chased her down a hallway and dragged her into a bedroom and assaulted her.
One of Strauss-Kahn's defense attorneys, Benjamin Brafman, said the IMF managing director "intends to vigorously defend these charges and he denies any wrongdoing."
On Monday, a serious-looking Strauss-Kahn, 62, made an appearance in court, slumping before a judge.
After the story broke over the weekend, a second woman came forward Monday with allegations she was also assaulted by Strauss-Kahn nine years ago.
Tristane Banon, a 31-year-old French journalist and writer, claimed Strauss-Kahn attempted to assault her in 2002 while she was interviewing him for a book she was writing.
David Koubbi, the lawyer for Banon, said his client did not file suit earlier due to "pressures" she faced over the alleged incident. She was even persuaded by her own mother, a regional Socialist official, not to move forward with the charges, Koubbi said.
Now, however, Banon has come forward because she believes her claims will be taken seriously, Koubbi told a French radio station.
Strauss-Kahn was taken into custody on Saturday morning.
While his lawyers have vowed their client will fight against the charges, they will have to work against the appearance that he tried to flee the U.S. shortly after the incident.
"They say he left the hotel so quickly he left his cell phone behind and there are other signs he tried to leave the scene very quickly."
Strauss-Kahn was picked up by police at the John F. Kennedy International Airport aboard a plane that was about to depart for Europe. The married father of four was put in a police lineup, from which the maid identified him as her alleged attacker.
She was then taken to a New York hospital for a "forensic examination" requested by prosecutors.
It's not the first time Strauss-Kahn has been investigated for his sexual behaviour. In 2008 he was briefly investigated over whether he had an improper relationship with a female subordinate at the IMF.
Investigators eventually decided the incident represented a "serious error of judgment," but found that the relationship was consensual.
Strauss-Kahn's American wife, Anne Sinclair -- his third -- defended him in a statement to French news agency AFP.
"I do not believe for one second the accusations brought against my husband. I have no doubt his innocence will be established," said Sinclair.
Strauss-Kahn has acquired a reputation for his extramarital trysts, and is known by the nickname "the great seducer."
While his infidelities have not hurt his political career in France, where politicians' private lives are not usually a factor in their political success, the recent serious charges will likely inflict damage.
CTV's legal analyst Steven Skurka said Strauss-Kahn faces "extremely serious charges."
"If Strauss-Kahn is found guilty he will most certainly go to jail and could go to jail for a number of years. Justifiably, the charges are treated very harshly in New York," Skurka said.
In France, the reaction was mixed.
"It's obvious that this is someone a lot of people were counting on, and because of this all of the cards are being reshuffled. So I don't know what's going to happen, but for me there is a presumption of innocence and we await the proof so we'll see," university employee Hubert Javaux, in the Left Bank, told The Associated Press.
Strauss-Kahn's face was splashed across numerous front pages in France on Monday morning, with grim headlines and photos.
"DSK Out" read the banner headline on the left-leaning Liberation. "The Doors of the Elysee Are Closing for DSK" read the headline in Le Soir.
Some are standing by Strauss-Kahn, claiming the allegations are a set-up, or some sort of smear campaign. However, the New York maid has been working at the hotel for more than three years, and has a reputation as discreet and hardworking, according to her manager.
Strauss-Kahn has led the IMF since 2007. His bid for the job was championed by Sarkozy, which many saw as an attempt by the president to remove his main challenger from the spotlight.
John Lipsky, the IMF's first deputy managing director, will lead the organization in an acting capacity in Strauss-Kahn's absence.