IMF President Dominique Strauss-Kahn last week was widely viewed as heading to the French Presidency. He is now viewed this week as more likely to head to an American jail. In an extraordinary criminal complaint, Strauss-Kahn is described as a sexual predator who spontaneously assaulted a hotel maid. And we thought former World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz was an embarrassment.
[UPDATE: Strauss-Kahn has been declared a flight risk and denied bond. Given his effort to leave the country, this is not too surprising. However, it is not clear why an electronic bracelet cannot be used in such a case.]
The account that has emerged resembles an international version of “Bonfire of the Vanities.” The recent case of Moshe Katsav comes to mind where an international leader proved to be a rapist.
What is fascinating is that the IMF was well-aware of Strauss-Kahn’s reputation for affairs with subordinates and his nickname “The Great Seducer.” However, it appears he may be more of “The Great Assaulter” given the account of the 32-year-old maid. Strauss-Kahn, 62, had just checked into the luxury Sofitel hotel in a $3,000 a night suite ( pretty pricey digs for a guy who started his political career as a member of the Union of Communist Students and was the leading Socialist candidate for President of France). Strauss-Kahn allegedly came out of the bathroom naked and chased her down a hallway and forced her into a bedroom. He then reportedly forced her to give him oral sex. She said she was able to break away and escape. She ran and told the staff.
What then unfolded is right out of a movie. Strauss-Kahn left the hotel so fast that he left his cellphone in the room. He was sitting in first-class on a flight to France that was about to taxi to the runway when police arrested him. He was then identified by the woman in a line up.
The contemporary account given by the woman and her injuries treated at the hospital makes for a particularly strong basis for a criminal case. Her selection of Strauss-Kahn in a lineup obviously reinforces that case. Finally, the reportedly rapid departure from the hotel will not sit well with the jury. We have not heard his side of this case but his attorney has a steep climb to get him into a better position. If this allegation is ultimately supported, one might expect to hear of additional cases since this sounds like an individual who was unable to control such impulses. Such extreme cases are rarely isolated and tend to be the end of a pattern. There will be an obvious interest by detectives in any modus operandi evidence and whether he had committed such assaults in the past and gotten away with it. That is not to say that Strauss-Kahn has such a history but this is very extreme alleged conduct and will likely be a focus of the police.
It will also be interesting to see if there is a claim of medication or some other influence producing this violent reaction.
It looks like, either way this goes, the Socialists will have to find another candidate. They might want to start with someone who does not need a $3000 a night hotel room or a criminal lawyer on retainer.