Strauss-Kahn to Face French Accuser in Attempted Rape ProbeHeather Smith
Dominique Strauss-Kahn will be questioned by police alongside the French writer who has accused him of attempted rape, the Paris prosecutors’ office said today.
Police interviewed the former International Monetary Fund chief Strauss-Kahn 11 days ago about Tristane Banon’s allegations. Their 2003 encounter “didn’t involve any aggression, any violence,” Strauss-Kahn said in a television interview, calling her accusations “imaginary.”
“Dismissing this out of hand would have been problematic,” said Christopher Mesnooh, a Paris criminal defense lawyer who isn’t involved in the case. Given “the sensitivity of the whole thing,” Mesnooh said, “the best way of getting it out is to have the two of them face to face.”
Strauss-Kahn, 62, resigned from the IMF in May while jailed in New York on charges of attempting to rape and sexually assault the chambermaid at the Sofitel Hotel in Manhattan. The case was thrown out last month after prosecutors said the maid had lied to them. Strauss-Kahn, who led French polls for the 2011 presidential election prior to his arrest, returned to Paris this month.
Prosecutors didn’t give a date for the so-called confrontation in an e-mailed statement today. Strauss-Kahn made his televised remarks, his first public comments on the New York and Paris investigations, on TF1 on Sept. 18.
Strauss-Kahn and Banon’s lawyers didn’t immediately return calls for comment on the police interview. Strauss-Kahn is at his home in Morocco, Agence France-Presse said today.
Banon sought the confrontation in television and newspaper interviews and organized a demonstration scheduled for tomorrow in front of the Paris courthouse in support of stricter penalties for violent crimes against women.
By holding a confrontation, “nobody can say afterwards that she did not have a chance to put her case forward” or “you were prejudiced against women or in favor of powerful men,” Mesnooh said.
The confrontation will also protect Paris prosecutors from critical comparisons to the New York investigation, where Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. took three months to investigate the maid’s claims before deciding to dismiss the indictment, said Mesnooh, a partner at Field Fisher Waterhouse.
“There is some pressure on the French judiciary after what happened in New York to at least take this far enough to see whether there is any fire behind the smoke and this is one way of doing it,” he said.
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