Bloomberg News

Strauss-Kahn Will Plead Not Guilty to Hotel Attack, Lawyer Says

June 06, 2011

(For more on the IMF and the case, visit EXT2 <GO>)

June 6 (Bloomberg) -- Former International Monetary Fund Managing Director Dominique Strauss-Kahn will formally deny charges that he sexually assaulted and tried to rape a Manhattan hotel maid at a hearing today, his lawyer said.

Strauss-Kahn, 62, will enter a plea of not guilty in New York State Supreme Court, attorney Benjamin Brafman said June 3. Strauss-Kahn previously rejected the allegations in his letter of resignation to the IMF last month.

He 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.

Strauss-Kahn allegedly attacked a housekeeper at the 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.

His last court appearance drew the biggest media turnout since Mark David Chapman was arraigned for shooting John Lennon, according to David Bookstaver, a court spokesman. 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 is under armed guard and may leave only for legal, medical and religious purposes.

Anticipating Attack

Kenneth P. Thompson, a former federal prosecutor who is representing Strauss-Kahn’s accuser, didn’t return a call seeking comment. Thompson, Norman Siegel, the former director of the New York Civil Liberties Union, and personal-injury lawyer Jeffrey Shapiro are working together in anticipation of an attack by the defense on the alleged victim’s reputation and credibility, Shapiro has said.

The maid, a 32-year-old from Guinea, has a 15-year-old daughter and, until the alleged incident, lived in the New York borough of the Bronx, according to Shapiro.

A police department crime scene unit gathered evidence from Strauss-Kahn’s hotel suite, Assistant District Attorney John “Artie” McConnell told a judge 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.

Brafman said at an earlier hearing that the evidence was in his client’s favor.

‘Defensible Case’

“The forensic evidence, we believe, are not consistent with forcible encounter,” he said. “This is a very, very defensible case.”

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.

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 and cost an estimated $200,000 a month.

The case is People v. Strauss-Kahn, 1225782, Criminal Court of the City of New York. New York County (Manhattan).

--With assistance from Shruti Singh in Chicago. Editors: Andrew Dunn, Peter Blumberg

To contact the reporter on this story: Karen Freifeld in New York State Supreme Court at kfreifeld@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Hytha at mhytha@bloomberg.net.


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