(Updates with Strauss-Kahn lawyer comment in seventh paragraph.)
Oct. 13 (Bloomberg) -- Paris prosecutors dropped an investigation of Dominique Strauss-Kahn over allegations of attempted rape made by a French novelist, saying there wasn’t enough evidence to bring a case.
While there may have been grounds for a probe of sexual assault -- a lesser crime than rape -- the deadline for filing such charges has passed, prosecutors said. The police investigation of Tristane Banon’s allegation that Strauss-Kahn tried to rape her in 2003 turned up insufficient evidence to bring charges, prosecutors said in a statement.
Banon filed a complaint in July as another attempted-rape case against the 62-year-old was unraveling in New York. Strauss-Kahn resigned his post as head of the International Monetary Fund in May to fight claims made in that case by a Manhattan hotel maid. The charges were dropped in August after prosecutors concluded the housekeeper had lied about events surrounding the alleged attack and key details of her life.
“When there is no material proof because there was no medical exam, no complaint filed at the time, it is absolutely logical,” said Denis Chemla, a Paris lawyer uninvolved in the case, said of the prosecutors’ decision. “The prosecution could not have done otherwise.”
Strauss-Kahn and Banon were brought together by Paris police on Sept. 29 for simultaneous questioning to try to reconcile their differing versions of what happened when Banon met Strauss-Kahn for an interview in 2003.
“This decision by the prosecution, while unsatisfying, is a first victory for Miss Banon after five months of difficult struggle,” David Koubbi, a lawyer for Banon, said in an e- mailed statement. “It’s established without reserve that her case wasn’t empty.”
Henri Leclerc, a lawyer for Strauss-Kahn, said in an interview on France 2 television that “there is nothing, nothing, nothing that shows what Miss Banon said was true.”
She said he assaulted her, trying to remove her clothes and putting his hands in her mouth and underwear, according to an interview in the July 6 issue of the magazine L’Express.
He called her account “imaginary” in a slander suit he filed against her.
Banon, speaking at a Sept. 24 rally supporting tougher sexual-assault laws, said she may seek a private prosecution, in which a criminal complaint can be taken directly to an investigating judge, or pursue a civil case against Strauss- Kahn. Charges of attempted rape and rape can be brought for 10 years after the incident in France, while sexual assault has a three-year limit.
Chemla said he didn’t see that Strauss-Kahn had anything to fear from future investigations of Banon’s claims.
“There will still need to be evidence,” he said.
Strauss-Kahn returned to Paris last month after the New York case was dropped.
--Editors: Fred Strasser, Peter Blumberg
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