York Post brings out important information from yesterday’s proceedings that the
, surprisingly, didn’t mention at all.
IMF chief claims consent in hotel ‘attack’
France’s leading presidential candidate may have pounced on a Manhattan hotel maid—but she wanted it, his lawyer asserted in court yesterday, hinting at what could be an explosive defense.
“The evidence, we believe, will not be consistent with a forcible encounter,” said Ben Brafman, the high-powered lawyer of IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn, at the suspect’s sensational arraignment in a packed criminal courtroom.
A source close to the defense later told The Post, “There may well have been consent.”
Disturbing information also emerged about Strauss-Kahn’s behavior after he left the hotel—including his coolly having lunch with his daughter, who lives in Manhattan, at a restaurant about a half-hour after the alleged attack.
The developments came as an exhausted and humiliated-looking Strauss-Kahn—a financial jet-setter and world politico—was ordered held without bail by a leery Judge Melissa Jackson, who noted that he had been caught just in the nick of time at JFK Airport.
Brafman tried to convince the judge that Strauss-Khan—who faces four felonies, including attempted rape and criminal sexual acts—was far from a flight risk.
“This isn’t someone who was about to flee the jurisdiction … He … has four children, and being accused of being a rapist is something he wants resolved,” Brafman said of his 62-year-old client.
He asked the judge to free him on $1 million bail—Strauss-Kahn’s loyal, New York-born wife, Anne Sinclair, had already wired the entire amount in cash, he said.
The white-haired, debonair dad would even stay with his 26-year-old daughter, Camille, a married poli-sci student at Columbia University while awaiting hearings, Brafman said.
Camille and her husband arrived about halfway through the hearing to support her father. The pair, both grim-faced and dressed in jeans, said nothing as they stood in the back of the courtroom.
But Chief Assistant District Attorney Daniel Alonso, the second-in-command in the office, who had demanded that Strauss-Kahn be remanded without bail, scoffed at the idea.
“It’s just like Roman Polanski—it’s the same, exact situation,” Alonzo warned Jackson, referring to the movie director who was charged with a sex act involving a child in California in 1977 and fled to France to dodge prosecution for more than 30 years.
France has no extradition agreements with other countries, and Strauss-Kahn faces up to 25 years in prison if convicted.
Prosecutors also hinted at Strauss-Kahn’s dark past.
“Our investigation reveals [Strauss-Kahn] may have engaged in similar conduct on at least one other occasion,” said ADA Artie McConnell.
A law-enforcement source later said that incident occurred outside the country but didn’t elaborate. A French journalist, Tristane Banon, has said Strauss-Kahn assaulted her during an interview in 2002.
Strauss-Kahn is accused of attacking the maid at the Sofitel hotel in Times Square around noon on Saturday after she entered his $3,000-a-night suite to clean it, thinking it was empty.
The millionaire moneyman had checked into Room 2805-6 a day earlier for a two-day jaunt, which his employer, the International Monetary Fund, said was for “personal business.”
A male room-service worker told the maid the room was empty, law-enforcement sources said.
Following hotel policy, she parked her cart in the doorway to the suite, leaving the door ajar. She then entered the living-room area and announced herself to make sure again no one was inside.
When she didn’t get an answer, she went to the bedroom to clean.
Strauss-Kahn strolled in naked from the bathroom, she told cops. The 32-year-old maid apologized and turned around to leave.
But she made it only as far as the foyer. Strauss-Kahn allegedly ran up behind her, grabbed her breasts, pushed the cart out of the door and locked it shut. He allegedly dragged her into the bedroom and tried to force her to perform oral sex.
The maid broke free and ran out of the bedroom, only to get caught again and dragged into the bathroom, where she was allegedly forced to perform oral sex on him, the sources said.
At one point, Strauss-Kahn tried to pull off her pantyhose and rape her, authorities said.
She escaped again and fled the room. She immediately reported the incident to her supervisor.
Security video shows Strauss-Kahn leaving his room at 12:28 p.m., and “he appeared to be a man who was in a hurry,” Alonzo said.
He then met his daughter for lunch. “He had lunch at 12:45 p.m., so it’s not an alibi,” said a source close to the defense. “At the same time, he made a series of phone calls conducting business as usual. This business of him running out of the hotel is horses**t.”
After lunch, Strauss-Kahn hopped into in a rented black car to JFK for a 4:40 p.m. Air France flight to Paris,
Along the way, he called his wife to tell her he had a “serious problem,” French media reported.
He also phoned the staff at Sofitel—mistakenly thinking he’d left one of his several cellphones there, sources said.
By that time, cops were at the hotel—and instructed staffers to tell him they had his phone and to ask where he was, the sources said. “Where are you? We’ll get it to you,” one staffer told him, according to the sources.
He said he was arriving at JFK for his flight—and Port Authority cops pulled him off an Airbus 380—where he was sitting in first class—at 4:38 p.m., two minutes before takeoff.
The detectives said he didn’t have any obvious scratches or bruising. But he had $300 in cash and his hotel-room electronic swipe key, sources said.
Strauss-Kahn was brought to an East Harlem police station and picked out of a lineup by the maid the next day. He was No. 3 in a lineup of five men, sources said.
He spent most of that day in the precinct house, sitting on a wooden bench while his lawyers duked it out with the Manhattan DA’s Office over possible bail and whether he would submit to DNA swabbing and a medical exam.
He eventually agreed to an exam and was whisked to Kings County Hospital in Brooklyn at around 11 p.m. Sunday, where he was forced to stand naked for photos.
The pictures could be used as evidence if they show any scratches or other marks, as if he’d been involved in a scuffle.
As the haughty-looking Frenchman awaited his arraignment yesterday morning, he sat on a bench with an accused unlicensed driver and two low-level drug dealers.
After his hearing, he was strip-searched like any other common criminal, and forced to undergo a complete body-cavity search.
He was then transferred to Rikers Island and placed in protective custody in a wing for sick inmates, as well as high-profile ones, a source said. He is in the cell alone.
Meanwhile, neighbors of the maid described her as an “extremely quiet,” French-speaking immigrant from the West African nation of Guinea who lives with her teen daughter in The Bronx.
“She is extremely quiet. She only smiles at certain people,” said neighbor Mark Gangadeen, adding that she wears a head scarf.
Another neighbor, Assetou Kamara, 33, said the woman is a devout Muslim.
The maid’s brother said his sister “is very tired and needs a rest.
“She’s a wonderful, hardworking woman, and she’s in a lot of pain,” the sibling said, adding that he has encouraged her to hire a lawyer.
Watching French TV, where reports blared that the alleged attack was a political set-up by Strauss-Kahn’s enemies, the brother said, “I don’t think that’s fair. My sister’s a very nice woman and not capable of that.”
Additional reporting by Larry Celona, Isabel Vincent, Bob Fredericks, Frank Rosario and Jennifer Bain
The charges vs. Dominique Strauss-Kahn
* Two felony counts of criminal sex acts in the first degree, one for each of the alleged forced oral-sex attacks—On conviction, each count carries up to 25 years in prison, with a mandatory minimum of five years.
* One felony count of attempted rape in the first degree—Carries maximum of 15 years and minimum of 3 1/2.
* One felony count of sexual abuse in the first degree for alleged vaginal grope—Carries up to seven years and minimum of two.
* One count of unlawful imprisonment in the second degree, for allegedly locking maid in bedroom to attack her the first time—Anywhere from no jail to one year.
* One count of sexual abuse in the third degree, for forcible touching—Anywhere from no jail to three months.
* One count of forcible touching—Anywhere from no jail to one year.
Even if Strauss-Kahn is found guilty on all counts, the sentences would most likely run concurrently, so the most he would face is 25 years.