Rape: French presidential hopeful Strauss Kahn refused bail in sex attack court arraignment

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Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the French Presidential hopeful and head of the IMF, has been remanded in custody by a New York judge, following his appearance in court over allegations of sexual assault.

 

Mr Strauss-Kahn, 62, is accused of an illegal sex act, attempted rape and unlawful imprisonment by a 32-year-old maid at the Sofitel, near Times Square.

It is now being alleged by New York prosecutors that the  IMF mogul  may have engaged in similar conduct once before and they are  now investigating.

The current crime was committed last Saturday in the hotel as Mr Strauss allegedly left the hotel in a hush-hush way, denoting that he fled the scene because of the crime.

However, as the case appeared in court on Monday, he was denied bail

Mr Strauss-Kahn’s lawyer Benjamin Brafman, reacting to the bail denial  said he was “disappointed” but summed the battle “has just begun”.

“Mr Strauss-Kahn did not flee his hotel after the alleged assault but was rushing to a lunch appointment with a witness who will testify to that affect, Mr Brafman told the court”, he said.

Dominic Strauss Kahn

“The reason he was rushing was because he had a luncheon appointment and the person he had lunch with will testify,” he said.
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On Monday, Mr Strauss-Kahn was led into room 130 of the New York City central criminal court at 10.50am (3.30pm BST)  by two police officers.

He was not handcuffed.
With his head slightly bowed, and wearing a dark jacket and light-coloured formal shirt, Mr Strauss-Kahn promptly took the seat in the defendants’ benches most difficult to see from the public gallery.

Shielded by three New York police officers, he was forced to sit beside an alleged drug dealer who works in the Texas Fried Chicken restaurant on Manhattan’s 132st, among other suspects.

Prosecutors asked that Mr Strauss-Kahn be remanded in custody due to concerns he might flee to France if released. Defence lawyers had proposed bail of $1 million.

Mr Strauss-Kahn’s wife, Anne Sinclair, is believed to have offered to post bail. She is due to arrive in New York on Monday afternoon as the next court appearance date has been set for May 20.

As the bail was refused, Mr  Strauss-Kahn was locked behind bars.

The  judge had  heard how he allegedly carried out the brutal sexual attack on the hotel chambermaid denied him $1 million bail.

The IMF chief could turn a “flight risk”, as prosecutors warned he could flee to Europe “just like Roman Polanski”, the film director who spent 32 years as a fugitive from the US.

Mr Strauss-Kahn was arrested turn trying to leave the country on a plane at JFK airport, the judge was told, while evidence suggested he had carried out similar assaults “on at least one other occasion”.

IMF

The 62-year-old father of four now faces up to 74 years in prison if convicted of a series of sex crimes against the maid in his $3,000-a-night suite at the Manhattan Sofitel on Saturday afternoon.

His lawyers earlier had hinted  he would plead not guilty to the charges.

“This battle has just begun,” his attorney Benjamin Brafman said outside New York City’s central criminal court after the hearing. “Mr Strauss-Kahn is innocent”.

Judge Melissa Jackson was told by prosecutors how Mr Strauss-Kahn “sexually assaulted and attempted to forcibly rape” the 32-year-old maid, an African immigrant and mother, after locking her in his room.

“When he was unsuccessful, he forced her to perform oral sex on him,” said John McConnell, an assistant district attorney. A criminal complaint details six charges in graphic detail.

The maid immediately alerted colleagues, gave a “detailed and powerful” account, and selected Mr Strauss-Kahn from an identity parade, Judge Jackson was told.

She underwent tests at a local hospital, where she was treated for minor injuries. “The findings during that examination corroborate her account,” said Mr McConnell.

Preliminary inquiries at the hotel suggest “there may be forensic evidence to support the case,” he said. In video of Mr Strauss-Kahn leaving the Sofitel, “he appears to be a man in a hurry”. Mr Strauss-Kahn was due to appear in court on Sunday night but this was delayed after he “willingly consented” to a DNA test.

Mr McConnell said Mr Strauss-Kahn must be denied bail as he had “no incentive to stay in this country and every incentive and resource to leave”, and an “extensive network of contacts around the world”.

Washington had no extradition arrangement with Paris, he added. “If he went to France, we would have no legal mechanism to guarantee his return,” he said.

Mr Polanski fled to France in 1977 after pleading guilty in California to unlawful sex with a 13-year-old girl. He was only arrested in 2009 after travelling to Switzerland, which eventually released him.

Mr Strauss-Kahn has “tremendous global political and economic influence and access to substantial financial resources,” said Mr McConnell. “Millions of dollars would be a small price to pay for his freedom”.

Mr Brafman argued Mr Strauss-Kahn’s behaviour on Saturday would not have been “logical” if he had carried out the attack. “He was in a hurry because he had a lunch date,” he said.

 

The attorney said Mr Strauss-Kahn’s ticket on Air France Flight 23, on which he was apprehended, was “booked long before”, not purchased in an emergency as reported.

He also called the Sofitel and told them where he was after realising he left his mobile phone behind.

“For the price of a cell phone, he would not have called security and said ‘I’m at JFK’,” said Mr Brafman.

Mr Brafman argued that bail be set at $1 million (£600,000), which he said had already been wired from the personal account of Anne Sinclair, the IMF chief’s wife, who was due to arrive in the city yesterday afternoon.

He promised Mr Strauss-Kahn would remain in New York by staying with his daughter Camille, a university student, and give up an international travel document. His French passport has been confiscated.

Judge Jackson was not convinced. “When I hear your client was at JFK airport about to board a flight, that raises some concerns,” she said. “I think he’s a flight risk”.

“This court is going to remand the defendant in advance of a grand jury”, she said. The next hearing was set for May 20.

Jon Swaine

News Source:  Jon Swaine,Telegraph,  New York.