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IMF chief arrested for allegedly raping a hotel maid in New York

Paris Guardian
Sunday 15th May, 2011 

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the head of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and a possible French presidential candidate, has been charged with a criminal sex act and attempted rape over the alleged sexual assault of a hotel maid, after being arrested and removed from a plane on the tarmac of John F. Kennedy Airport.

The Washington Post quoted Paul J. Browne, police spokesman, as saying that 62-year-old Strauss-Kahn was questioned by the New York Police Department's special victims office,

Browne said the housekeeper told authorities she entered the IMF chief's suite at the luxury Sofitel Hotel near Manhattan's Times Square at about 1 p.m., and that he attacked her.

According to other reports, the woman gave this account to police that Strauss-Kahn emerged from the bathroom naked, chased her down a hallway and pulled her into a bedroom, where he began to sexually assault her. She said she fought him off, but then he dragged her into the bathroom. The woman was able to break free again, escaped the room and told hotel staff what had happened, and they called police, authorities said.

Browne said that when police detectives arrived moments later, Strauss-Kahn had already left the hotel, leaving behind his cellphone: "It looked like he got out of there in a hurry."

Strauss-Kahn, a charismatic 62-year-old,  is an economist and lawyer, who led the International Monetary Fund through the 2007-09 global financial meltdown and has been central in galvanizing Europe to tackle its debt woes, for long had the reputation of a womanizer. In 2008, Strauss-Kahn apologized for "an error of judgment" after an affair with a female IMF economist who was his subordinate.

The Fund’s board of member countries warned him against further improper conduct, but cleared him of harassment and abuse of power and kept him in his job. It will now face new scrutiny over whether that response was too weak, especially as there have been persistent rumors about Strauss-Kahn making sexual advances to women.

 The allegations immediately threw France’s presidential race wide open. He had not yet declared his candidacy but Strauss-Kahn was widely expected to run for the Socialist Party and early opinion polls showed him with a big lead over the conservative incumbent, Nicolas Sarkozy, who is seeking a second term at the election next April. French voters are famously tolerant of political leaders’ extra-marital affairs but the allegations against Strauss-Kahn are entirely different, and much more serious.

"The news we received from New York last night struck like a thunderbolt," said Socialist leader Martine Aubry, appealing for party unity. France’s government as well as Strauss-Kahn’s political allies and rivals called for caution and respect for the presumption of innocence, but his presidential ambitions appeared to be dead in the water unless the case against him quickly unravels and he is shown to be innocent.

Many politicians have fallen after being caught in extra-marital affairs and others have survived them, including former U.S. presidents John F. Kennedy and Bill Clinton as well as former French President Francois Mitterrand. But rarely have senior figures faced brutal assault charges like those filed against Strauss-Kahn.

He is also widely believed to challenge French president Nicolas Sarkozy in next year's presidential election, and polls show he would have a good chance of removing the sitting president out of his office. (ANI)

If they are proven, Strauss-Kahn’s fall from power in a scandal would be one of the most dramatic of any high-profile international figure in decades.

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