Kahn faces second assault claim

THE head of the International Monetary Fund, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, is facing at least one more allegation of sexual assault — this time by a fellow French native who described him as a “rutting chimpanzee”.

Already in custody for the alleged attempted rape of a New York hotel maid, the 62-year-old French presidency hopeful has now been accused of molesting 31-year-old novelist Tristane Banon as she tried to interview him in a Paris apartment in 2002.

She had spoken of the incident on French television in 2007, albeit without naming 62-year-old Strauss- Kahn, just referring to him as a well-known politician.

During that broadcast she said her attacker was like a “rutting chimpanzee” whom she had to fight as he “undid my bra” and “tried to undo my jeans”.

Her lawyer has indicated she is likely to file a criminal complaint against him over the 2002 attack.

Yesterday, Strauss-Kahn was led into a New York courtroom and accused of “criminal sexual acts in the first degree, attempted rape in the first degree, sexual abuse in the first degree, unlawful imprisonment in the second degree, sexual abuse in the third degree and forcible touching”.

Opposing bail, prosecutors said he restrained the 32-year-old maid inside his room at the Sofitel hotel in New York, sexually assaulted her and attempted to forcibly rape her.

“When he was unsuccessful, he forced her to perform oral sex on him,” prosecutors claimed.

Mr Strauss-Kahn left the hotel within minutes of the alleged attack and when detectives arrived at the scene, they discovered he was at JFK International Airport.

They contacted officials at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which runs the airport, and Port Authority police officers arrested him.

The prosecutor said the Frenchman, if convicted, faced “substantial” prison time on each of the charges against him, including a maximum of 25 years on the most serious charge.

He said the victim provides a very powerful account of what the accused did and confirmed Strauss- Kahn had been picked out of a line-up within 24 hours of the alleged attack on Saturday night.

He also claimed authorities were investigating at least one other case in New York of “conduct similar to the conduct alleged” at the Sofitel hotel.

The prosecution also said that if Strauss-Kahn went to France or numerous other locations outside US jurisdiction, “we simply could not legally compel him to return”.

Dominique Strauss-Kahn was refused bail by New York judge Melissa Jackson, who agreed with the prosecution that he might attempt to flee the country.

He must stay in jail until his next hearing on Friday.

The IMF has played a central role in organising rescue packages for Ireland, Portugal and Greece.

Mr Strauss-Kahn had been due to attend an EU finance ministers’ meeting in Brussels to discuss the bailouts.

Commenting on what impact the arrest of Strauss-Kahn would have on Ireland’s bid to get a better bailout deal, Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore said: “To be honest, it’s not helping. But it is one of those quite extraordinary, unexpected turn of events.”

Mr Strauss-Kahn was expected to be the Socialists’ candidate for the French presidency elections, due to be run over two Sundays next April and May, and opinion polls rated his chances highly.

It was expected that he could well have beaten the incumbent, Nicolas Sarkozy, and seen off the far right candidate, Marine Le Pen, who is doing very well in opinion polls.

Even if he is proven not guilty in the US, further allegations are now emerging of similar behaviour in France, cementing the belief that the political career of the man known as “the great seducer” is over.

This is on top of a scandal shortly after he joined the IMF where he admitted and apologised for having a relationship with a junior official that was seen as inappropriate.

Had he become French president it was believed he would have changed the balance in the EU, being a greater counter-balance to Germany’s Chancellor than Mr Sarkozy.

His economic expertise and his globally recognised political ability led many to believe he would make the EU adopt a more comprehensive approach to the single currency, such as introducing eurobonds.

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