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31 Year-Old Novelist Plans to File Criminal Charges against IMF Head Dominique Strauss-Kahn

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PARIS — A 31-year-old novelist is likely to file a criminal complaint accusing International Monetary Fund chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn [back story: ] of sexually assaulting her nine years ago, her lawyer said Monday.

A political rival said Strauss-Kahn had engaged in a long-term pattern of sexual misconduct. Without providing proof, lawmaker Michel Debre alleged that the potential French presidential candidate had victimized several maids at the luxury Sofitel hotel near Times Square where he is accused of assaulting a maid over the weekend.

The unproven allegations, and images of the handcuffed, grim-faced Strauss-Kahn being escorted by detectives outside a police station, were causing deep shock and dismay inside France, where Strauss-Kahn had topped the polls as a possible candidate in presidential elections next year.

Defenders of the former finance minister said they suspected he was the victim of a smear campaign. Others were re-examining whether Strauss-Kahn’s reputation as a womanizer had an ugly, coercive side.

Novelist Tristane Banon’s attorney said that after the 2002 attack she was dissuaded from filing charges by her mother, a regional councilor in Strauss-Kahn’s Socialist party.

Lawyer David Koubbi told French radio RTL on Monday that Banon did not file suit earlier due to “pressures” she face over the alleged 2002 sexual assault, and would now because “she knows she’ll be taken seriously.”

Anne Mansouret, a regional Socialist official in Normandy and Banon’s mother, said she had advised her daughter against filing suit against Strauss-Kahn years ago. She said she believed it was a temporary moment in which he “lost his way” — and that a lawsuit could forever stain Banon’s career.

Speaking on BFM TV, Mansouret recalled telling her daughter then: “Listen, you know, if he had raped you, I wouldn’t have any hesitation, but that wasn’t the case — he sexually assaulted you, there wasn’t any rape per se … so until the end of your life, you’re going to have on your resume, you know, Tristane Banon is the girl who … “’

The case involving a man often known in France by his initials, DSK, has not just bared his self-acknowledged reputation as a lover of women, but has fueled talk that now he may have crossed a criminal line — and gotten caught.

Without offering proof of his claims or the source of his information, Debre said the 32-year-old maid was not the only one the IMF chief had assaulted at the hotel.

“It’s not the first time that DSK is involved in this kind of actions at the Sofitel,” said Michel Debre, an outspoken lawmaker from French President Nicolas Sarkozy’s conservative party — a rival to Strauss-Kahn’s Socialists.

“That’s where he always stayed. It happened several times and for several years. Everyone knew it in the hotel,” Debre was quoted Monday as saying on the Web site of French weekly L’Express.

The hotel declined to respond to his comments.


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