Frenchwoman accuses Strauss-Kahn of attempted rape

The lawyer for a French novelist says she will file a lawsuit

By Michael Weissenstein - Sylvie Corbet
July 4, 2011 5:37PM (UTC)
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Former International Monetary Fund chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn returns to his house on Franklin St. in the Tribeca section of downtown Manhattan Saturday, July 2, 2011 in New York. Strauss-Kahn was been accused by a Sofitel hotel maid of trying to rape her in May, but prosecutors told a judge on Friday, July 1, 2011, they had discovered serious problems with the maid's credibility. The judge subsequently lifted his house arrest, allowing him to travel in the U.S. but not abroad. (AP Photo/David Karp) (AP)

The lawyer for a French novelist says she will file a lawsuit accusing former International Monetary Fund chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn of attempted rape.

Lawyer David Koubbi told The Associated Press that Tristane Banon will file the suit Tuesday in Paris.


Banon has described an encounter several years ago in which Strauss-Kahn allegedly assaulted her.

Strauss-Kahn was arrested in New York in May on charges that he tried to rape a hotel maid. Strauss-Kahn, who denied wrongdoing, was released without bail last week after questions emerged about the maid's credibility.

Koubbi had said in the past that they would not file a lawsuit until the American trial was finished. He said Monday that they had decided to move forward now instead of waiting.


THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.

PARIS (AP) -- From sidewalk cafes to political party headquarters, France was consumed Monday by the question of whether the sudden weakening of the sexual assault case against Dominique Strauss-Kahn would revive his hopes of running for president.

The country was split on whether it wanted him back in public life: two polls showed an almost even division between those who thought he should return, and those who believed his political career was over.


The former International Monetary Fund chief's re-entry to politics would be a tectonic shift in a campaign already shaken by his May 14 arrest on charges of attacking a New York hotel maid. The Socialist had been widely seen as the leading contender in the 2012 election, leading polls in the months before his arrest.

With the alleged victim's credibility now undercut by prosecutors and Strauss-Kahn free on bail, French politicians and pundits appear to almost uniformly assume that the charges against him will be dropped in coming weeks.


For many, the question is now whether a man paraded in handcuffs before photographers outside a Harlem police station a month and a half ago will try to run against widely unpopular conservative president Nicolas Sarkozy and become leader of the world's fifth-largest economy.

"DSK Back?" the left-leaning daily Liberation asked on its front page Monday, describing Strauss-Kahn's release from house arrest as having turned the Socialist primary race upside down for the second time in as many months.

"Dominique Strauss-Kahn will express his intentions when he wants to," Socialist Party leader Martine Aubry told France-2 television.


The charges still stand against Strauss-Kahn, who has relinquished his passport to authorities in New York. Another court hearing would be needed for him to get it back. His next appearance is scheduled for July 18, five days after the deadline for candidates to register in the Socialist Party primary.

As a result, much of the debate about Strauss-Kahn's political future centers on whether the Socialists would push back the primary deadline.

"Let's acknowledge that if Strauss-Kahn decides to come back as a candidate on our side, no one will try to oppose him using some calendar," said Aubry, who declared her candidacy only after Strauss-Kahn's arrest.


The Socialist Party's spokesman appeared to disagree, an indication of the confusion and disagreement within the party about betting the opposition's chances of defeating Sarkozy on a man seen by some as a martyr of American injustice and by others as an out-of-touch jet-setter with a history of crude behavior toward women.

"We can't base the (political) calendar, which involves millions of French people, on the American judicial calendar," party spokesman Benoit Hamon said Monday.

Hamon left open the possibility, however, that Strauss-Kahn could become a candidate even after the official deadline, an act that would presumably require an extraordinary effort by Strauss-Kahn to get his divided party to bend its own rules.

"If ever Dominique Strauss-Kahn, beyond July 13th, says that he would like to enroll in this calendar, which doesn't seem the most likely, we are reasonable people, we will discuss with him under what conditions he could do so," Hamon said.


A poll released Monday found that 51 percent of French people found that Strauss-Kahn no longer had a political future, versus 42 percent who thought he did.

The telephone poll of 956 adults selected as a demographically representative sample was conducted July 1 and 2 by the Ipsos Public Affairs institute for the magazine Le Point. No margin of error was provided.

Another poll out Sunday conducted by Harris Interactive poll for the newspaper Le Parisien showed 49 percent of those surveyed saying 'yes' to the question "Without prejudging his innocence or guilt, do you want DSK to come back to the French political scene one day?"

Forty-five percent said 'no' and six percent didn't answer the question. The agency asked a demographically representative group of 1,000 people 18 years old and older to fill out the July 1-2 online survey. No margin of error was provided.


Sarkozy's conservative allies have maintained virtually complete silence on Strauss-Kahn's arrest. But on Monday, some appeared to be returning to the normal tenor of a political campaign.

Sarkozy has been assailed from the left for what some call his bling-bling image and tax policies that critics say favor the rich, in a country proud of its social welfare system and revolutionary past.

Strauss-Kahn had come under some criticism before his arrest for appearing in a friend's Porsche and for reports he wore highly expensive tailored suits.

After his arrest, he lived under house arrest in a $50,000 (euro34,500)-a-month town house in Manhattan's trendy TriBeCa neighborhood.


"Between his luxury tastes and other subjects, Dominique Strauss-Kahn has not offered a very positive image recently," Sports Minister Chantal Jouanno, a Sarkozy ally, said on Europe-1 radio.


Angela Charlton contributed to this report.

Michael Weissenstein

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Sylvie Corbet

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