Maid at centre of Kahn case ‘feels alone in the world’

THE lawyer for a maid who accused IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn of sexual abuse says she feels “alone in the world” and is telling the truth.

Jeffrey Shapiro says the maid is from the African nation of Guinea with a 15-year-old daughter.

He says she had no idea who Strauss-Kahn was until a day or two after she was attacked on Saturday.

Shapiro says his client’s story of being attacked by Strauss-Kahn in his Sofitel Hotel suite is “consistent” because she is telling the truth.

Strauss-Kahn, 62, is jailed in New York on charges including attempted rape after being denied bail on Monday. His lawyer has said that he is innocent.

The maid has not been identified.

“There is no way in which there is any aspect of this event which could be construed consensual in any manner,” Shapiro said. “This is nothing other than a physical, sexual assault by this man on this young woman.”

He continued: “It’s not just my opinion that this woman is honest. The New York City Police Department reached the same conclusion.” He added, “This is a woman with no agenda.”

She arrived in the US seven years ago from Guinea under “very difficult circumstances,” Shapiro said.

“She did not know who this man was until a day or two after this took place,” Shapiro said. “She had no idea who the man was.”

Other allegations of sexual misbehaviour by Strauss-Kahn have begun to circulate since his arrest.

A person close to an IMF employee who had a brief affair with Strauss-Kahn said the woman warned the organisation about his behaviour toward women in a letter sent three years ago.

The woman, Hungarian-born economist Piroska Nagy, voiced “doubts about Dominique Strauss-Kahn’s suitability for running an international institution,” according to the person, who was familiar with the letter’s content but declined to be identified, citing the sensitivity of the matter.

Nagy, who had worked at the IMF for decades, left the organisation after the affair with Strauss-Kahn in 2008. Although the relationship has long been public knowledge, and an IMF-commissioned investigation cleared Strauss-Kahn of wrongdoing, it is back in the news after the 62-year-old Frenchman’s incarceration.

The New York Times published an excerpt of the letter, along with an account that alleged Nagy had been aggressively pursued by her boss, who sent her sexually explicit messages and at one point even had her summoned from the bathroom to speak to him.

In France, a lawyer for a 31-year-old novelist said she is likely to file a criminal complaint accusing him of sexually assaulting her nine years ago.

Prosecutors in New York said they are working to verify reports of at least one other case, which they suggested was overseas.

Meanwhile, Strauss-Kahn has come under pressure to resign from the IMF.

He spent an uneventful night at the infamous Rikers Island after being denied bail. Prosecutors had warned the wealthy banker might flee to France and put himself beyond the reach of US law like the filmmaker Roman Polanski.

Strauss-Kahn, a member of France’s Socialist Party, was widely considered the strongest potential challenger next year to President Nicolas Sarkozy.

Austria’s finance minister has suggested that Strauss- Kahn consider stepping down to avoid damaging the IMF.

“Considering the situation, that bail was denied, he has to figure out for himself that he is hurting the institution,” Maria Fekter said as she arrived at a meeting of European finance ministers in Brussels yesterday.

Elena Salgado, Fekter’s Spanish counterpart, said Strauss-Kahn had to decide for himself whether he wanted to step down, considering the nature of the charges.

In France, defenders of Strauss-Kahn said they suspected he was the victim of a smear campaign. Others expressed sympathy.

“I didn’t like the pictures I’ve seen on television,” Luxembourg Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker said, referring to footage that showed Strauss-Kahn in handcuffs being escorted by police outside a New York precinct house.

Showing a suspect in handcuffs is illegal in France since a 2000 law aimed at the preserving the presumption of innocence.

Strauss-Kahn was arrested on Saturday at Kennedy Airport after the allegations at the Sofitel Hotel near Times Square.

Due to his high profile, Strauss-Kahn will be held in protective custody on Rikers Island, away from most detainees, said city Correction Department spokesman Stephen Morello.

Unlike most prisoners who share 50-bed barracks, he will have a single-bed cell and will eat all of his meals alone there. He’ll have a prison guard escort when he is outside his cell.

Strauss-Kahn was ordered into custody at least until a court proceeding on Friday.

He cannot claim diplomatic immunity because he was in New York on personal business and paid his own way, the IMF said.

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