Dominique Strauss-Kahn insisted there was no “aggression or constraint” involved in his sex with a hotel chambermaid who accused him of attempted rape, but admitted he was guilty of a “moral fault”.
In his first public explanation of events leading up to his arrest in New York in May and imprisonment on charges – later dropped – of attacking the woman, Strauss-Kahn swung from punchy to contrite.
The chambermaid, Nafissatou Diallo, a single mother from Guinea, had, he insisted, “lied about everything”. “That’s what the prosecutor’s report says. You have to read it carefully,” he told news presenter Claire Chazal, a friend of his wife, the former television star and wealthy heiress Anne Sinclair, during the prime-time 8pm news programme on TF1.
Several times during the interview, the former head of the IMF, dressed in a black suit, white shirt and navy tie, waved what he said was the report from the New York prosecutor, Cyrus Vance, justifying why the charges against him were dropped. Strauss-Kahn had denied forcing Diallo, 32, to perform oral sex in his hotel suite in the seven minutes after she arrived to clean the room and he left to have lunch with his daughter, insisting that the relationship was consensual.
“There was nothing violent, no constraint, no aggression, nothing criminal about what happened; that’s what’s the prosecutor said, not me,” he said at the beginning of the 23-minute interview, and repeated shortly afterwards.
He added: “What happened was not only inappropriate, it was more than that, it was a fault; a fault towards my wife, my children, my friends, but also a fault towards the French people, who placed in me their hope for change.”
Asked if he had paid for sex with Diallo, he replied, “No.”
“It was worse than a weakness, it was a moral fault of which I am not proud. I regret it infinitely. I have regretted it every day for the last four months and I don’t believe I have finished regretting it,” he said.
“The prosecutor’s report – and you have to read it attentively – accuses me of nothing that caused injuries. There is no trace of violence or injury either on her on me.”
Asked why he thought Diallo had made the accusation, he said: “That is for her to say. People have put forward various hypotheses: the financial hypothesis …”
“Nafissatou Diallo lied about everything. It’s not me saying that – it’s in the prosecutor’s report. She didn’t just lie about her background – that wasn’t important – she lied about the facts.”
Waving the report, he insisted: “It’s written here in his report that she ‘presented so many versions of what happened, we cannot believe her … every interview we had with her she lied’.
“He said it was ‘surreal’ – that was the word he used, ‘surreal’ – to see at each interview that she went back on what she had said the interview before. The whole story she invented was a lie.”
Before the interview, Diallo’s New York lawyers, who have filed a civil suit on her behalf, went on the attack.
“If Mr Strauss-Kahn thinks that people in France will really believe that he was able to convince Ms Diallo, who had never met him before and did not know that he was in the room, to engage in sexual acts with him within a matter of minutes, then he should describe how that happened,” Diallo’s lawyers said in a statement.
On Sunday night, Strauss-Kahn said the French might find it “curious” that when criminal charges had been dropped, someone could still bring a civil case, but added: “That’s the way it is in the United States.”
Asked how he had felt being paraded by the New York police in handcuffs, he said: “I was afraid. I was very, very afraid. When you are in a crunching machine like that [the US justice system], you have the impression it is crushing you to death. I felt ground under its heel, humiliated, and I wasn’t able to say a word. I have suffered a violent experience.”
Some in France have suggested that Strauss-Kahn, the man seen as the opposition socialists’ hope of ousting Nicolas Sarkozy in next year’s presidential election, was a victim of a conspiracy. Asked if he agreed, he again waved the prosecutor’s report. “We will see,” he said. “We will see.”
After this point, Strauss-Kahn became less combative and defiant and more reflective, almost emotional.
He praised his wife as an “exceptional woman” whom he was lucky to have at his side. “She would not have supported me if for one second she thought I was not innocent,” he said.
Strauss-Kahn justified spending £35,000 a month on a town house while released on bail, saying he had no choice: “It was that or returning to Rikers Island,” he said, referring to the the notorious New York prison where he was held for several days after his arrest.
The former French government minister is facing a second allegation of attempted rape in France. Writer and journalist Tristane Banon claims he jumped on her like a “rutting chimpanzee” when she went to interview him in February 2003.
Strauss-Kahn described the 32-year-old Banon’s accusation as “imaginary and slanderous” and said he was taking legal action against her.
He also denied that he had a problem with women, as claimed by Piroska Nagy, a Hungarian economist who worked at the IMF and who had a brief affair with Strauss-Kahn in 2007. In a letter to the IMF afterwards, Nagy, who was married, suggested he had used his power to have a relationship with her. “I was damned if I did, and damned if I didn’t,” she wrote, adding that Strauss-Kahn was “a man with a problem that may make him ill-equipped to lead an institution where women work under his command”.
“Au contraire. I respect women,” Strauss-Kahn insisted to Chazal.
Strauss-Kahn admitted he had wanted to stand in the presidential elections, but said he would not comment on the current Socialist party primary campaign to select a replacement candidate.
Chazal moved on to safer ground with questions about the current financial crisis, during which Strauss-Kahn appeared to perk up and regain the stridency he had shown at the beginning of the interview.
Asked what the future held, he refused to rule out a return to politics, saying he had “devoted his life to being useful to the people”.
“We will see,” he concluded.
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, dominique strauss kahn
, hotel chambermaid
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, wealthy heiress
Categories: The Western Press