Former International Monetary Fund leader Dominique Strauss-Kahn entered a formal not guilty plea on Monday to charges of sexually assaulting a Manhattan hotel maid.
The French diplomat appeared in court for the first time since he was released on $6 million in cash bail and bond last month. He has been under house arrest that includes 24-hour monitors and armed guards, first in a downtown Manhattan apartment and now in a deluxe, $50,000-a-month Tribeca townhouse.
By the end of the case, "it will be clear that there was no element of forcible compulsion in this case whatsoever," Strauss-Kahn's attorney Benjamin Brafman said outside court after the brief hearing. "Any suggestion to the contrary is simply not credible."
Brafman's similar comments at an earlier court hearing have led to speculation that the defense will argue the encounter was consensual. He repeated again Monday that he and co-counsel William Taylor would not be commenting on the specifics of the case.
"We will defend this case in the courtroom," he said, urging there not be a rush to judgment.
But the maid's attorney, Kenneth Thompson, said she would testify in court and condemned speculation that she either made up the attack or exaggerated the claims.
"The victim wants you to know that all of Dominique Strauss-Kahn's power, money and influence throughout the world will not keep the truth about what he did to her in that hotel room from coming out," Thompson said.
Thompson said the 32-year-old woman has not worked since the encounter because she is traumatized. And she will not settle the case or back down.
"She is standing up for women around the world sexually assaulted who are too afraid to come forward," he said.
The attorneys also briefly discussed the handing over of potential evidence in the case. Strauss-Kahn's next court date was set for July 18.
Protesters gathered outside to jeer Strauss-Kahn, who resigned from his powerful post amid the scandal, and proclaimed his innocence in a letter to staff. About 50 hotel workers who were bused in by their union gathered outside the courthouse, many wearing their work uniforms. They shouted "shame on you" as Strauss-Kahn arrived, and again as he left in a black sport-utility vehicle.
The accuser "is a hard-working woman who was just doing her job," said Wendy Baranello, a hotel union organizer. "It's outrageous."
Strauss-Kahn was arraigned on charges of attempted rape, sex abuse, a criminal sex act, unlawful imprisonment and forcible touching. The most serious charge carries a maximum term of five to 25 years in prison.
The woman's attorneys said outside court that an attempt to smear her name would not be tolerated.