Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the former head of the International Monetary Fund, maintained Sunday his sexual encounter with a New York hotel maid did not involve violence, constraint or aggression but still constituted a moral failing on his part.
In his first interview since his May 14 arrest over accusations of sexual assault, Strauss-Kahn told France's TF1 television channel "what happened was more than an inappropriate relation. It was an error."
He added "I regret it infinitely."
Still, he maintained the encounter with the maid, Nafissatou Diallo, was consensual and that she "lied" in accusing him of attacking her after she came into his room at New York's Sofitel hotel to clean.
Strauss-Kahn also dismissed as "imaginary" separate claims by a French writer that he tried to rape her during a 2003 interview, again insisting "no act of aggression, no violence" had taken place between the two.
The writer, Tristane Banon, has maintained she and Strauss-Kahn tussled on the floor during an interview in an empty apartment, with the politician trying to open her jeans and bra and putting his fingers in her mouth and underwear.
Because a police investigation into the claims is ongoing, Strauss-Kahn said he would not say anything more about the matter.
If Paris prosecutors decide to pursue the case, Strauss-Kahn — once among the luminaries of France's Socialist party who was widely considered a top contender in next year's presidential race — could face a possible trial.
New York prosecutors dropped all criminal charges against him in the Diallo case last month, though Strauss-Kahn is still facing a lawsuit brought by the maid, an immigrant from the African nation of Guinea.
Asked whether he had any intention of returning to politics, Strauss-Kahn said he would "take time to reflect" and rest first.
"But all my life was consecrated to being useful to the public good," he said, adding "we will see."
The interview came off as somewhat scripted, with Strauss-Kahn — in a dark suit and navy tie — looking unruffled and responding calmly to the questions.
The AP does not name people who report being sexually assaulted unless they agree to be identified or come forward publicly, as Diallo and Banon have done.