French Police Take Statement from DSK's French Accuser

Monday, Jul 11, 2011  |  Updated 9:35 AM EDT
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A French writer who contends that former International Monetary Fund chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn tried to rape her gave a statement to French police investigators on Monday, a judicial official said.

Tristane Banon brought a criminal complaint last week, and the Paris prosecutor's office has opened a preliminary investigation into her allegations that Strauss-Kahn attacked her in an empty apartment during a 2003 interview.

A judicial official speaking on condition of anonymity in accordance with French judicial regulations said police heard from Banon on Monday.

Strauss-Kahn quit as head of the International Monetary Fund after he was arrested in New York in May based on accusations of assault made by a maid at a Manhattan hotel. Strauss-Kahn denies wrongdoing, and has since been released without bail after prosecutors said investigators had discovered problems with the maid's credibility.

Banon made no official report of being victimized after the alleged attack eight years ago. Her lawyer, however, said he has evidence, including text messages related to the incident, and Banon has explained that her mother — a Socialist Party politician — dissuaded her from making a complaint immediately after the alleged incident.

A prominent Socialist, Strauss-Kahn had been seen as a leading potential contender and challenger to conservative President Nicolas Sarkozy for next year's elections — until the New York hotel incident embarrassed Strauss-Kahn's party and left him in the political wilderness.

Banon has told L'Express magazine that during an interview for a book project, Strauss-Kahn grabbed her hand and arm before the two fell to the floor of his apartment and fought for several minutes, with the politician trying to open her jeans and bra and putting his fingers in her mouth and underwear.

Strauss-Kahn's lawyers have called the incident "imaginary" and threatened to file a complaint accusing Banon of slander.

Banon has acknowledged the difficulty of proving her case, saying she took action to deal with the trauma of the alleged incident and to refute those who say she's been lying.

The ongoing saga continues to rivet France, where ahead of his judicial problems Strauss-Kahn was widely regarded as a top contender for next year's presidential race.

The Manhattan DA and his attorneys met last week to discuss the state of the New York case, but the DA said afterward that no decisions had been made.

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