Strauss-Kahn faces new rape attempt allegation
A new attempted rape suit against former IMF boss Dominique Strauss-Kahn yesterday threatened to wreck his hopes of returning to frontline French politics even if he is acquitted at his New York trial.
Writer Tristane Banon, 32, yesterday lodged “a complaint for attempted rape” relating to an incident eight years ago against Mr Strauss-Kahn with French prosecutors, her lawyer David Koubbi said.
She had already publicly accused Mr Strauss-Kahn of trying to force himself on her “like a rutting chimpanzee” but said she was persuaded at the time that no one would take her word against the powerful politician’s if she sued.
Mr Strauss-Kahn was charged in New York in May with trying to rape a hotel maid, but a judge freed him from house arrest last week after prosecutors expressed doubts about the accuser’s credibility.
US media reported yesterday that prosecutors were poised to drop the charges.
Ms Banon, a French writer and journalist, told L’Express that “seeing Strauss-Kahn freed then afterwards dining in a fancy restaurant with friends, makes me sick”.
She repeated her account of the alleged attack in 2003, saying Mr Strauss-Kahn had “his hands in my pants after he ripped off my jeans and bra”.
She added: “Eight years ago when I talked about bringing a complaint, everyone had me believe that it would lead nowhere. In these matters it is one person’s word against another.”
French prosecutors must now decide whether there are grounds to open an investigation which could lead to formal charges.
In the New York case, the revelation that the maid is suspected of lying to police has raised expectations that Mr Strauss-Kahn will be cleared.
Some of his allies in the French opposition Socialist Party have suggested he could return to fight Nicolas Sarkozy in next year’s presidential election.
Before the New York scandal he polled as the person most likely to beat Mr Sarkozy. Some of Mr Strauss-Kahn’s backers alleged the arrest was the result of a set-up.
Ms Banon’s legal action complicated the prospects of him returning in glory and prompted awkward questions for members of the Socialists, who Ms Banon says knew about her alleged ordeal at the time.
Strauss-Kahn’s lawyers Henri Leclerc and Frederique Baulieu dismissed Ms Banon’s claims as “imaginary” and threatened to sue her for defamation.
Meanwhile, the Guinean hotel maid who has accused former Mr Strauss-Kahn of attempted rape is suing the New York Post for claiming that she was a prostitute.
“Yes, we have filed suit against the New York Post for stating that the victim is a prostitute,” her lawyer Kenneth Thompson told AFP in an e-mail.
The tabloid on Saturday, quoting a source close to the case, said the 32-year-old woman had played host to a parade of paying male visitors in the weeks after Mr Strauss-Kahn’s arrest.