By Nico Colombant
New York police said early Sunday, the head of the International Monetary Fund has been charged with criminal sexual assault, attempted rape and unlawful imprisonment following a complaint by a hotel maid.
New York police said 62-year-old Dominique Strauss-Kahn was apprehended while sitting on an Air France plane that was idle on the tarmac at JFK international airport before its takeoff to Paris. Police said he was not handcuffed, but taken off the plane and into custody.
A 32-year-old maid told authorities she had entered his room earlier in the day at the Sofitel hotel near Manhattan’s Time Square and that he had tried to sexually assault her. After she reported what had happened, she was taken to an area hospital. Hotel staff were cooperating with authorities.
The Reuters news agency reports that an attorney for Strauss-Kahn says he will plead not guilty to the charges at an arraignment police say is expected later Sunday.
The IMF in Washington says it has no comment on the case.
In 2008, Strauss-Kahn, who is married to a famous former French television newscaster, was investigated over whether he had had an improper relationship with a subordinate employee from the fund’s Africa division.
An investigation board said his actions had been regrettable, and reflected a serious error in judgment, but also that the relationship had been consensual.
Heading into the 2012 French presidential race, Strauss-Kahn was considered a leading contender in the crowded opposition Socialist Party to challenge incumbent President Nicolas Sarkozy.
But in the past few weeks, there had been repeated reports in French media criticizing him for what was considered an excessive and luxurious lifestyle in Washington. His aides denied the charges, saying these were part of a campaign orchestrated by his political opponents.
One of his lawyers told French radio, the attacks were unjust and unbearable.
Candidates for the Socialist Party primary are due before the middle of July.
Late Saturday, French media commented Strauss-Kahn’s arrest could cost him the top job at the IMF which he has held since 2007 as well as any chance at the French presidency.