Dominique Strauss-Kahn, head of the International Monetary Fund ("IMF") and potential French presidential candidate, was arrested on May 14, 2011 and charged with attempted rape for allegedly sexually assaulting a maid in his New York hotel room. New York police officers removed Strauss-Kahn from his Air France flight to Paris approximately 10 minutes before it was scheduled to depart from its gate at JFK Airport.
According to the victim, a 32-year old housekeeper at a luxury hotel in Manhattan, she entered Strauss-Kahn's hotel room around 1:00pm, believing that nobody was inside the hotel suite at the time. The victim claims that Strauss-Kahn emerged from the bathroom completely naked, chased her down a hallway, and pulled her into a bedroom where he attempted to rape her. When unable to rape the housekeeper, he allegedly forced her to perform oral sex on him. The victim finally escaped and informed hotel coworkers of the incident. The hotel staff then called the police.
Police believe that Strauss-Kahn then attempted to flee the United States for France, leaving behind a cell phone in his hotel room. Assistant District Attorney Artie McConnell said he saw a video of Strauss-Kahn leaving the hotel after the alleged attack occurred, and Strauss-Kahn appeared to be in a hurry. Authorities were able to arrest Strauss-Kahn before his flight departed and the following day, May 15, 2011, the victim picked him out of a lineup. While awaiting his court date on May 16, 2011, Strauss-Kahn spent his time in a Manhattan jail cell.
On May 16, 2011, Strauss-Kahn appeared in front of Judge Melissa Jackson at the New York Criminal Court. Judge Jackson denied bail, remanding Strauss-Kahn back into protective custody. Officers took him to Rikers Island where he will be held in a single-person cell until his trial date.
Judge Jackson initially denied bail based upon the seriousness of the allegations and Strauss-Kahn's flight risk. Specifically, Judge Jackson indicated concern that Strauss-Kahn was on a plan at the time of his arrest, stating, "[w]hen I hear that your client was at JFK Airport about to board a flight, that raises some concern." Strauss Kahn has the financial means to easily leave the country, and since France has no extradition treaty with the United States, it is possible that Strauss-Kahn could evade prosecution.
Benjamin Brafman, Strauss-Kahn's defense attorney, argued that "this is a very, very defensible case. He should be entitled to bail." Brafman suggested bail to be set at $1 million, arguing that his client acted inconsistently with someone attempting to flee the country. Brafman argued to the court that Strauss-Kahn had remained in Manhattan after the alleged assault; he had a lunch date near the hotel. According to Brafman, Strauss-Kahn also informed hotel security of his whereabouts when they called looking for him. Nonetheless, Strauss-Kahn was eventually granted bail and placed under house arrest. In addition to being placed under house arrest, Mr. Strauss-Kahn must submit to video surveillance monitoring and wear an ankle bracelet. On June 6, 2011, he entered a not-guilty plea to all charges and awaits trial.
Strauss-Kahn is best known for his success as a brilliant economist. As the head of the IMF, Strauss-Kahn has played a major role in the economic bailouts for Greece and Ireland. He is also active in the French political world. In 1986 he was elected to France's National Assembly, which is the country's lower house of parliament. Strauss Kahn then served as France's trade minister from 1991 - 1993 and as finance minister in the late 1990's. Until now, he has been the front-runner for France's presidential election next year. Simon Serfarty of the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, DC told CNN that in regards to Strauss-Kahn's political career, "it's over. He's done."
Strauss-Kahn is also known as a ladies man, being called "a great seducer" and known for enjoying a lavish lifestyle. In 1999, he resigned from his ministerial position after allegations were made that his consulting business was involved in unethical financial practices. Strauss-Kahn also has a history with sexual controversy. Early in his career as head of the IMF, Strauss-Kahn acknowledged that he had an improper physical relationship with a female employee, which an independent inquiry determined to be consensual.
Another woman has stepped forward to claim that Strauss-Kahn sexually assaulted her. Tristane Banon, daughter of Anne Mansouret - a Socialist member of French parliament - claims that she was attacked in 2002. At the time, Banon chose not to file a police report out of fear it would hurt her career aspirations of becoming a journalist. Banon's attorney, David Koubbi, now says his client is considering filing a complaint for the 2002 incident.
Defenders of Strauss-Kahn, including Strauss-Kahn himself, are claiming that the incident is a political set-up - a ploy to ruin Strauss-Kahn's chances in his campaign for the French presidency. The victim's attorney, Jeffrey Shapiro, says that such claims are "ridiculous." At this time, Strauss-Kahn maintains his innocence and his attorney is ready to defend his client against the numerous charges against him: attempted rape, sex abuse, criminal sex act, unlawful imprisonment and forcible touching. According to Brafman, "[t]his battle has just begun." It appears clear, however, that Strauss-Kahn's battle for presidency is over.
Sources: "Judge Denies Bail to I.M.F. Chief in Sexual Assault Case," by John Eligon, May 16, 2011, The New York Times; "Dominique Strauss-Kahn: A brilliant career, a stunning accusation," by Alan Silverleib, CNN; "IMF Chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn Arrested for Sexual Assault in New York," by Mike Vilensky, May 15, 2011, New York Magazine; "IMF chief's arrest may speed up succession battle," May 16, 2011, msnbc.com; "Claims Dominique Strauss-Kahn was set up are 'ridiculous' says lawyer," by Hayden Smith, May 18, 2011, metro.co.uk