IMF Chief Jailed at Rikers After Arraignment in NYC Sexual Assault - NBC New York

IMF Chief Jailed at Rikers After Arraignment in NYC Sexual Assault

Dominique Strauss-Kahn was charged with a criminal sex act, attempted rape and unlawful imprisonment



    Dominique Strauss-Kahn walks in police custody as police investigate assault allegations. (Published Wednesday, May 25, 2011)

    The chief of the International Monetary Fund is behind bars at Rikers Island after his arraignment on charges of trying to rape a maid in his Manhattan hotel room.

    Dominique Strauss-Kahn, a likely French presidential candidate and a married father of four whose reputation with women earned him the nickname "the great seducer," was formally charged Monday in the alleged weekend assault.

    Strauss-Kahn will remain jailed at Rikers at least until his next court hearing on Friday. Because he is a high-profile prisoner, he will have a single-bed cell and eat his meals alone there, unlike most prisoners who share 50-bed barracks.

    He is accused of attacking a maid who went in to clean his penthouse suite Saturday at a luxury hotel near Times Square. He is charged with attempted rape, sex abuse, a criminal sex act, unlawful imprisonment and forcible touching. The top count is punishable by five to 25 years in prison.

    "This battle has just begun," defense attorney Benjamin Brafman told reporters gathered outside the courthouse. "Mr. Strauss-Kahn is innocent of these charges."

    A source told NBC New York that Strauss-Kahn's semen was found at the scene.

    The charges stunned the global financial world and upended French presidential politics. A member of France's Socialist party, Strauss-Kahn was widely considered the strongest potential challenger next year to President Nicolas Sarkozy.

    Strauss-Kahn appeared in court Monday rumpled and unshaven; sources told NBC New York he was fed scrambled eggs and toast from a Harlem deli, and then a ham sandwich, while in custody before being taken to Rikers.

    Assistant District Attorney John A. McConnell said in court Monday that New York authorities are investigating at least one other case of "conduct similar to the conduct alleged" at the Sofitel. He told the judge he believed that was an overseas case.

    McConnell asked the judge to hold Strauss-Kahn without bail, saying his position as IMF head had taken him out of the country previously and that the IMF leader was wealthy and doesn't live in New York.

    "He has almost no incentive to stay in this country and every incentive to leave," McConnell said. "If he went to France, we would have no legal mechanism to guarantee his return to this country."

    Strauss-Kahn was in New York on personal business and was paying his own way, so he cannot claim diplomatic immunity, the IMF said. He could seek that protection only if he were conducting official business.

    Defense attorneys had suggested bail be set at $1 million and promised the IMF managing director would remain in New York City.

    The 32-year-old maid told authorities that when she entered his spacious, $3,000-a-night suite early Saturday afternoon, she thought it was unoccupied. Instead, Strauss-Kahn emerged from the bathroom naked, chased her down a hallway and pulled her into a bedroom, where he sexually assaulted her, New York Police Department spokesman Paul J. Browne said.

    The woman told police she fought him off, but then he dragged her into the bathroom, where he forced her to perform oral sex on him and tried to remove her underwear. The woman was able to break free again, escaped the room and told hotel staff what had happened, authorities said.

    Strauss-Kahn was gone by the time detectives arrived moments later. He left his cellphone behind.

    The NYPD discovered he was at John F. Kennedy International Airport and contacted officials at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which runs the airport. Port Authority police officers arrested him.

    The maid was taken by police to a hospital and was treated for minor injuries.

    Meanwhile, the lawyer for a 31-year-old French novelist said she was likely to file a criminal complaint accusing Strauss-Kahn of sexually assaulting her nine years ago.

    A rival lawmaker also alleged, without offering evidence, that the potential French Socialist presidential candidate had victimized several maids during past stays at the luxury Sofitel.

    The hotel issued a statement calling conservative lawmaker Michel Debre's claims "baseless and defamatory." Sofitel management "has had no knowledge of any previous attempted aggressions," the hotel said, adding that it had set up a hotline for workers to report incidents more than a year ago.