UPDATE 1:10 p.m.: Lawyers for Dominique Strauss-Kahn say they will file a slander complaint against Tristane Banon, the writer who claims he tried to rape her, reports the Associated Press. In a statement, the lawyers said the former IMF chief "has always said the incident described by Ms Banon since 2007 is imaginary."
ORIGINAL POST: Just as the New York case against former IMF chief Dominique Strass-Kahn appears to be unraveling and debate is increasing about whether he has a political future, a French writer will be filing a criminal complaint accusing “the great seducer” of attempted rape, her lawyer announced Monday.
The claims by Tristane Banon are hardly new but word that she would go ahead with legal action was “a new shock” for the French political world, writes the Associated Press. Banon, 32, spoke of her experience with DSK shortly after he was arrested in New York in mid-May, claiming he had to fight off his sexual advances when she went to interview him. She had talked about the allegation in a 2007 TV show but Strauss-Kahn’s name was bleeped out (excerpt from the show below). Although Banon had repeatedly said the event took place in 2002, her lawyer, David Koubbi, now says it was in early 2003. At the time, Banon’s mother, Anne Mansouret, a regional councilor in Strauss-Kahn’s Socialist party, apparently dissuaded her from filing charges. But now seems to be pushing her to act, noting she regrets her initial reaction and is “revolted” by the way many men in France have been celebrating the troubles in DSK’s prosecution, reports the BBC.
French law specifies that attempted rape charges can be brought up to 10 years after an alleged attack, but sexual assault charges expire after three years, details Reuters. News of the suit came as French polls seemed to show the country was divided over whether DSK could make a political comeback. Although some Socialists were quick to welcome DSK back into the fold, party spokesman Benoit Hamon seemed to throw cold water on the idea early Monday saying a run for the presidency was “the weakest” of all scenarios, reports Reuters. Still, Hamon left open the possibility that DSK could join the campaign even after the official deadline passes on July 13.
The new developments come after a judge lifted DSK’s house arrest Friday following revelations that his accuser had lied at several points during the investigation. Even though charges haven’t been dropped, the case appears close to collapsing. The New York Times reported earlier that the housekeeper’s “account of being sexually attacked was so compelling it brought tears to the eyes of seasoned investigators.” Officials now say that the compelling story tied with a high-profile suspect who was close to leaving the country may have forced detectives to act more rashly than they should have.
The case is an example of the “punish first, figure out what happened later” American justice system that we don’t usually hear about because “ordinary schnooks” are the ones affected, Eugene J. O’Donnell, a professor of police studies at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, tells the Times. After first alleging that DSK’s accuser was a prostitute, the New York Post cited sources Sunday to report that the maid allegedly demanded money from Strauss-Kahn after performing oral sex on him but he refused to pay up.
For its part, the Washington Post takes a look at tabloid coverage of the DSK saga, writing that the New York Post has “made the most noise, setting the tone for coverage by the local and foreign press and putting pressure on the district attorney’s office.” It’s the paper that foreign reporters love to hold up to the cameras and has been forcing journalists who work for traditionally more reserved outlets to chase after details “about semen samples and sex acts.”