of Strauss-Kahn’s lawyer’s unsuccessful effort to get him released on bail yesterday. It says: “The decision to deny bail was a surprising and striking defeat for Mr. Strauss-Kahn.” Though Strauss-Kahn offered to pay $1 million and promised to stay in the United States for the duration of the case (he and his wife have a house in Georgetown), the judge, noting that France has no extradition treaty with the U.S. and that he was arrested while boarding a plane, saw him as a flight risk and refused bail. He was sent to Rikers Island, where he is being held in a single-person cell.
May 16, 2011
Judge Denies Bail to I.M.F. Chief in Sexual Assault Case
By JOHN ELIGON
Dominique Strauss-Kahn, second from left, with his lawyer, Benjamin Brafman,
appeared in court before Judge Melissa C. Jackson, who denied him bail.
Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the managing director of the International Monetary Fund, was ordered on Monday to be held without bail over allegations that he had sexually assaulted a housekeeper in a lavish suite at a Midtown hotel.
The decision to deny bail was a surprising and striking defeat for Mr. Strauss-Kahn, whom many saw as a leading contender to become France’s next president. He was taken to Rikers Island, where he will be held in protective custody in a single-person cell.
Prosecutors had asked the Criminal Court judge, Melissa C. Jackson, to remand Mr. Strauss-Kahn, 62, to custody, contending that he was a flight risk. They also indicated that he may have been previously involved in a similar episode.
“Some of this information includes reports he has in fact engaged in conduct similar to the conduct alleged in this complaint on at least one other occasion,” said Artie McConnell, an assistant district attorney, adding that the other occasion, which occurred outside the United States, was still being investigated.
In opposing bail, prosecutors highlighted the serious nature of the allegations.
“The defendant restrained a hotel employee inside of the room,” Mr. McConnell said. “He sexually assaulted her and attempted to forcibly rape her,” and when that failed, Mr. McConnell said, he forced her to perform oral sex.
Mr. McConnell also said that he saw a video of Mr. Strauss-Kahn leaving the Sofitel New York, on West 44th Street, after the time alleged for the attack.
“It appears to be a man who was in a hurry,” Mr. McConnell said.
As he entered the courtroom, Mr. Strauss-Kahn looked just as he had the day before—in a dark full-length coat, hands cuffed behind his back and a stern gaze on his face. He did not enter a plea during the proceeding, nor did he speak aloud.
The criminal complaint says that Mr. Strauss-Kahn shut the door and prevented the woman from leaving, grabbing her breasts, trying to pull down her pantyhose and grabbing her crotch.
“The victim provided very powerful details consistent with violent sexual assault committed by the defendant,” Mr. McConnell said, adding that she told hotel staff members and law enforcement authorities what had happened shortly after the attack.
The woman was examined after the episode, and law enforcement officials were processing evidence from the hotel room, Mr. McConnell said.
Preliminary indications, Mr. McConnell said, was that forensic evidence supported “the victim’s version of events.”
Benjamin Brafman, one of Mr. Strauss-Kahn’s lawyers, argued that “this is a very, very defensible case. He should be entitled to bail.” He suggested that it be set at $1 million, and said that Mr. Strauss-Kahn’s wife, Anne Sinclair, who was flying in from Paris on Monday afternoon, would provide the money.
The defense team already has found significant issues with the case, Mr. Brafman said, though he did not elaborate. Nor did he suggest—as some in the French news media have—that Mr. Strauss-Kahn was a victim of a setup.
Mr. Brafman added that although his client was arrested on an Air France plane that was about to take off from Kennedy International Airport on Saturday, he was not trying to flee.
Mr. Brafman said that Mr. Strauss-Kahn’s travel plans had been set for some time, and he indicated that there was evidence that between the time of the alleged attack and his flight, Mr. Strauss-Kahn was in the area of the hotel, taking care of other business.
He also said that his client had a lunch meeting near the hotel after the time the housekeeper had given for the attack, and that his lunch partner would be able to testify. In addition, he said, the hotel security found out he was at the airport only after he volunteered where he was.
“That is not consistent with someone who is trying to conceal his whereabouts, so he could get on a flight and leave,” Mr. Brafman said.
One person briefed on Mr. Strauss-Kahn’s travel plans said that he had bought the ticket more than a week ago.
Mr. Brafman added that if his client were granted bail, he would stay with his daughter in New York for the duration of the case. He also said that Mr. Strauss-Kahn and his wife owned a house in the Georgetown neighborhood in Washington.
But prosecutors said that Mr. Strauss-Kahn’s resources, the lack of an extradition treaty between the United States and France, and the defendant’s history were all reasons that he should not be granted bail.
Indeed, Judge Jackson, the supervising judge of Manhattan Criminal Court, indicated that she was concerned about Mr. Strauss-Kahn’s being stopped at the airport.
“When I hear that your client was at J.F.K. Airport about to board a flight,” she said, “that raises some concern.” The judge also indicated that she would not reconsider her bail decision, even if Mr. Strauss-Kahn were to agree to wear an ankle monitor.
Mr. Brafman indicated that his client had turned over his passport to the district attorney’s office and that he would also surrender his laissez-passer, a United Nations credential issued to international personnel that allows for easier travel.
Mr. Strauss-Kahn’s appearance in Manhattan Criminal Court, which lasted only 26 minutes, capped a 43-hour odyssey through New York’s criminal system. He was arrested, held in a special cell in East Harlem and placed in a police lineup, and submitted to a forensic medical exam for possible evidence.
He even was subjected to a ritual familiar to high-profile suspects: the so-called perp walk, providing newspapers around the world with a front-page picture.
At the arraignment, Mr. Strauss-Kahn stood droopy-faced, and was slouching on a bench with his arms folded before his case was called.
The charges include various counts of sexual assault, including attempted rape, sexual abuse and criminal sexual act. He faces up to 25 years in prison if convicted, and is due back in court Friday, when he is likely to learn if the grand jury has handed up an indictment.
On Monday night, a man who identified himself as the alleged victim’s older brother stood outside the Manhattan restaurant he manages, and said his sister was tired and in pain.
“She’s a wonderful, hard-working woman, that’s why she’s in pain,” said the man, who added that he and the victim’s daughter were the only family she had in the country. He would not provide any details on her condition, but said that his sister was resting in a secure location and that “she is coming back normally” with the help of her lawyer.
Interest in the details of Mr. Strauss-Kahn’s case is seemingly bottomless. For example, questions arose as to how he came to stay in a $3,000-a-night suite at the Sofitel and fly first-class on Air France.
On Monday, William Murray, a spokesman for the International Monetary Fund, said that Mr. Strauss-Kahn had paid $525 for the room, according to a Travelocity reservation receipt provided by Mr. Strauss-Kahn’s office. Mr. Murray said that Mr. Strauss-Kahn had stayed at the Sofitel several times before, and that the I.M.F. had not expected to reimburse him for the cost. Mr. Murray added that the I.M.F. had paid for a business-class seat on Air France for Mr. Strauss-Kahn, but that he received an upgrade.
Other details emerged on Monday, some more arcane than others. For example, when he stood in a police lineup of five men—and was ultimately identified by the housekeeper—he was No. 3, in the center.
Jim C. writes: