(Updates with defense filing in 14th paragraph. For more on the IMF and the case, visit EXT2 <GO>)
June 6 (Bloomberg) -- Former International Monetary Fund Managing Director Dominique Strauss-Kahn pleaded not guilty three weeks after his arrest to charges of sexually assaulting and attempting to rape a Manhattan hotel maid.
“Not guilty,” Strauss-Kahn, wearing a blue tie and a dark suit, told New York State Supreme Court Justice Michael Obus today in Manhattan. The defendant was flanked by his attorneys, Benjamin Brafman and William Taylor III. After the hearing, Strauss-Kahn left the courthouse hand in hand with his wife, Anne Sinclair, as hotel workers shouted, “Shame on you.”
Strauss-Kahn, 62, was arrested May 14 and later indicted on seven counts, including criminal sex act, attempted rape, sexual abuse, unlawful imprisonment and forcible touching. If convicted of the top charges, he faces as long as 25 years in prison.
He allegedly attacked a housekeeper, a 32-year-old from Guinea, at the Midtown Manhattan Sofitel on May 14, grabbing her breasts and trying to pull down her pantyhose, prosecutors said in court papers. The former IMF chief attempted to rape her and forced oral sex, according to the indictment.
“There was no element of forcible compulsion in this case whatsoever,” Brafman told reporters outside the courthouse after the arraignment. Obus scheduled the next hearing for July 18.
‘Money and Influence’
Kenneth P. Thompson, a former federal prosecutor who is representing the accuser, rejected any suggestion that the encounter was consensual.
“All of Dominique Strauss-Kahn’s power, money and influence throughout the world will not change the truth of what he did to her in that hotel room,” Thompson said after the hearing. “She is going to come into this courthouse, sit down on that witness stand and tell the world what Dominique Strauss-Kahn did to her.”
Once a possible contender for the French presidency, Strauss-Kahn is free on bail and living in a rented townhouse in Lower Manhattan, just blocks from the court. He’s under armed guard and may leave only for legal, medical and religious purposes.
Strauss-Kahn, a former French finance minister, was released from jail on May 20. Among the terms of his release are $1 million bail, a $5 million bond and security measures that include electronic monitoring, conditions that the district attorney’s office estimates cost $200,000 a month.
Housekeepers Seek Safety
Members of the city’s hotel workers’ union, the New York Hotel Trades Council, gathered at the courthouse to show support for Strauss-Kahn’s accuser, a fellow member, said John Tritt, a supervisor in the union’s organizing department. The group wants room attendants and other hotel employees to be given panic buttons and better training, he said.
The case has led hotel housekeepers to ask employers to boost safety measures and take reports of sexual harassment seriously.
Mahmoud Abdel Salam Omar, the former chairman of Egypt’s Bank of Alexandria, was arrested May 30 and accused of sexually abusing a maid at Manhattan’s Pierre hotel the day before. He was released on bail June 3.
A police crime scene unit gathered evidence from Strauss- Kahn’s hotel suite, Assistant District Attorney John “Artie” McConnell said in court last month. While results of tests on material taken in the search weren’t available as of a May 19 hearing, preliminary indications “support the victim’s version of events,” the prosecutor said.
Strauss-Kahn’s lawyers today filed a demand for documents and recordings, including statements their client made to authorities, results of any physical or mental examinations, including DNA tests, any toxicology reports on the defendant’s or the accuser’s blood, and any medical records.
The lawyers also demanded a witness list, police reports, recordings of any 911 calls and crime scene pictures. They asked for evidence from the Sofitel, any hotel employees’ union, Air France and a McCormick & Schmick’s Seafood Restaurant.
Strauss-Kahn’s lawyers have said he left the hotel in a hurry to have lunch with his daughter before heading to a scheduled Air France flight. He was taken into custody on the plane before it left John F. Kennedy International Airport. The document filed today didn’t say whether McCormick & Schmick’s was where Strauss-Kahn dined that day.
A woman who answered the phone today at the restaurant’s Manhattan location declined to comment. Tori Harms, a corporate spokeswoman, didn’t immediately return a call for comment.
The case is People v. Strauss-Kahn, 2526/11, Supreme Court of the State of New York, New York County (Manhattan).
--With assistance from Shruti Singh in Chicago. Editors: Andrew Dunn, Charles Carter
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