Head of IMF charged with sex attack on New York hotel maid
Dominique Strauss-Kahn, head of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and socialist favourite in the French presidential race, has been arrested and charged with sexually assaulting and attempting to rape a maid in a New York hotel.
Strauss-Kahn was arrested on a flight at JFK airport. The 62-year-old was taken from the Paris-bound Air-France aircraft by plain-clothed officers before Manhattan Police formally arrested him on charges of criminal sexual act, attempted rape and unlawful imprisonment.
According to New York police spokesman Paul Browne, the IMF chief has been accused of a brutal attack on the 32-year-old woman at the Sofitel New York on West 44th Street, where he was staying.
Strauss-Kahn, who does not have diplomatic immunity as head of the IMF, is expected to be brought before a state court today (Sunday). His lawyer said he would plead not guilty.
According to New York state law, a criminal sexual act includes forcibly compelling someone to engage in oral sex. The offence carries a potential sentence of 15 to 20 years – the same as attempted rape. Unlawful imprisonment carries a potential sentence of three to five years.
The allegations threaten to severely damage the standing of the IMF, where Strauss-Kahn was leading the response to the global financial crisis. Strauss-Kahn had been on his way to Europe to discuss the worsening European debt crisis.
For months opinion polls have suggested that Strauss-Kahn is the only potential opposition candidate who might unseat Sarkozy in next year’s election. The French Socialist party said it was “stupefied and holding crisis talks.