Strauss-Kahn Charged With ‘Non-Existent Crimes,’ Lawyer Says

IMF Former Managing Director Dominique Strauss-Kahn
Dominique Strauss-Kahn, former managing director of the International Monetary Fund. Photographer: Nelson Ching/Bloomberg

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, former head of the International Monetary Fund, didn’t commit a crime and will fight charges brought against him by French judges tied to a probe of a prostitution ring, his lawyer said.

“These are non-existent crimes” under French law, his lawyer Henri Leclerc said at a press conference in Paris today. “All that he is really being accused of is a libertine existence, which is shocking. This is an injustice and an attack on personal liberty.”

Strauss-Kahn will appeal restrictions imposed on him against discussing the case in the press to a court overseeing investigations and the idea that the criminal code covers his libertine behavior, his lawyer said.

Strauss-Kahn, 62, was charged yesterday in the Northern French city of Lille in the so-called Carlton affair, named for the local hotel where the prostitution investigation began. He is accused of actively participating in the ring, organizing sex parties. The charge could result in a sentence of as long as 20 years in prison and 3 million euros ($4 million) in fines under the French penal code.

Strauss-Kahn denied knowing the women were prostitutes, so the only reason for reproach is a moral one, not a criminal one, Leclerc said at a press conference in Paris today.

“There is no serious way to show that Strauss-Kahn knew these young women were being paid,” he said, adding the women were told by the men paying them not to tell anyone they were hired. “There was no act of enabling prostitution, just a classic relation between a man and a prostitute.”

Paying for sex is legal in France. Procuring prostitutes for someone else isn’t.

Friends of Friends

Strauss-Kahn attended two to three “libertine parties” a year, with “friends and women who were friends of his friends,” Leclerc said. “Young women dressed in seductive clothing at a party” aren’t necessarily giving away that they’re prostitutes.

The charges followed a closed-door meeting yesterday between Strauss-Kahn and the three judges leading the probe. The former presidential hopeful was ordered not to contact other people involved in the case, including the eight other people charged, witnesses and the press, according to a statement by Lille prosecutors. He was released on a 100,000-euro bond.

In addition to disputing the criminality of the behavior, Leclerc described the ban on speaking to the media about the case as an attack on his human rights.

U.S. Case

The former IMF managing director gave up his post last year after being arrested in New York on charges he sexually assaulted a hotel maid. Local prosecutors dropped that case because of concerns about his accuser’s credibility and Strauss-Kahn returned to France, where he faced a separate accusation of attempted rape, which was also dropped.

Tomorrow, a hearing in New York state court in the Bronx is scheduled in the civil suit of Nafissatou Diallo, the maid who said Strauss-Kahn tried to rape her. His lawyers asked New York State Supreme Court Justice Douglas E. McKeon to dismiss the case, arguing Strauss-Kahn should have diplomatic immunity.

His lawyers declined to comment today on how the French case could impact the U.S. lawsuit.

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