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This will put France's Socialist party in bind. But that's always a good thing.

NEW YORK – The leader of the International Monetary Fund and a possible candidate for president of France was yanked from an airplane moments before it was to depart for Paris and arrested in the alleged sexual assault of a hotel maid, police said.

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, 62, was arrested on charges of a criminal sex act, attempted rape and unlawful imprisonment. He had been taken off the Air France flight at John F. Kennedy International Airport on Saturday afternoon by officers from the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and was turned over to New York police, said Paul J. Browne, New York Police Department spokesman.

Strauss-Kahn's lawyer, Benjamin Brafman, told The Associated Press that his client will plead not guilty at his expected Sunday afternoon arraignment.

"He denies all the charges against him," Brafman said. "And that's all I can really say right now."

France woke to the bombshell news Sunday to surprise and a degree of caution. Online commentators questioned whether the incident could have been part of a smear campaign by the unpopular President Nicolas Sarkozy, whose political fortunes have been flagging, against his primary rival in the race for next year's presidential elections.

The arrest could shake up the race for president next year, and throw the long-divided Socialists back into disarray about who they could present as a challenger to Sarkozy.

"It's a cross that will be difficult for him to bear," said Dominique Paille, a political rival to Strauss-Kahn on the center right, on BFM television.

"It's totally hallucinating. If it is true, this would be a historic moment, but in the negative sense, for French political life," Paille said. Still, he urged, "I hope that everyone respects the presumption of innocence. I cannot manage to believe this affair."

The 32-year-old woman told authorities that she entered Strauss-Kahn's suite at the luxury Sofitel hotel not far from Manhattan's Times Square at about 1 p.m. Eastern time (1600 GMT) Saturday and he attacked her, Browne said. She said she had been told to clean the spacious $3,000-a-night suite, which she had been told was empty.

According to an account the woman provided to police, Strauss-Kahn emerged from the bathroom naked, chased her down a hallway and pulled her into a bedroom, where he began to sexually assault her. She said she fought him off, 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 and escaped the room and told hotel staff what had happened, authorities said. They called police.

When detectives arrived moments later, Strauss-Kahn had already left the hotel, leaving behind his cellphone, Browne said. "It looked like he got out of there in a hurry," Browne said.

The NYPD discovered he was at the airport and contacted Port Authority officials, who plucked Strauss-Kahn from first class on the Air France flight that was just about to leave the gate.

The maid was taken by police to a hospital and being treated for minor injuries. John Sheehan, a spokesman for the hotel, said its staff was cooperating in the investigation.

Answer Question

Asked by Carpy at 11:13 AM on May. 15, 2011 in Politics & Current Events

Level 39 (114,053 Credits)
Answers (7)
  • Hmmmm, interesting and if true then it must have been horrifying for the hotel maid. Forgetting a cell phone is not such a big deal, but if he wasn't scheduled to fly out and instead bought a last minute ticket to leave the country, it certainly makes the story more ominous.


    Answer by QuinnMae at 11:32 AM on May. 15, 2011

  • Not sure if he's guilty, but it doesn't sound good. I'm sure they'll try to spin it that this powerful man could have anyone he wanted so why would he attack a hotel maid. Sheesh, I guess I am getting too cynical :(

    Answer by DSamuels at 11:43 AM on May. 15, 2011

  • I was a little more skeptical until I got to the part where he pretty much FLED. That doesn't look good imo. I will trust the NYPD and whatever their investigation has turned up.


    Answer by yourspecialkid at 12:29 PM on May. 15, 2011

  • "This will put France's Socialist party in bind. But that's always a good thing." Why does a news story about an innocent hotel maid that allegedly was raped have to be about politics? Rapists don't toe party lines. Rapists come from all walks of life. I feel sorry for the maid if she was raped and hope that justice is done in this situation, but I see no reason to make it about the pitfalls or the merits of any particular political system.

    Answer by AmourSpork at 12:52 PM on May. 15, 2011

  • Why does a news story about an innocent hotel maid that allegedly was raped have to be about politics?

    Perhaps because he was the leading contender to the current president of France? I don't know why but it just would seem to me like that would have something to do with it. He also heads the IMF.

    Comment by Carpy (original poster) at 1:22 PM on May. 15, 2011

  • Why does a news story about an innocent hotel maid that allegedly was raped have to be about politics?

    Politics is the only reason this story is on the front page of every news site on the web. Like it or not, the story of a woman assaulted isn't really news. The story of the head of the IMF assaulting a woman is what makes it news.

    Answer by NotPanicking at 2:14 PM on May. 15, 2011

  • We don't know if he is guilty or not as yet . It won't make any difference to the French Socialist party , they are not short of talent to oppose Sarkozy and the French won't hold it against the party , Different political environment to the US.

    Answer by janet116 at 3:22 PM on May. 15, 2011

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