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Plaintiff in Strauss-Kahn case to deny consensual sex claim

©

Video by Luke SHRAGO

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2011-05-18

The hotel maid who alleges she was sexually assaulted by Dominique Strauss-Kahn will reject any assertions that she had consensual sex with the IMF chief when she testifies before a grand jury on Wednesday, her attorney said.

REUTERS - A hotel maid who says IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn tried to rape her was due to testify to a New York grand jury on Wednesday, as the French presidential hopeful faced growing pressure to resign.

A lawyer for the woman, a 32-year-old widow from West Africa, dismissed a suggestion by Strauss-Kahn's attorney that the incident at the luxury Sofitel hotel in Times Square last Saturday might not have been a sexual assault.
 
"There's nothing consensual about what took place in that hotel room," lawyer Jeffrey Shapiro told NBC's "Today" show.
 
Shapiro told Reuters his client would testify before the grand jury later on Wednesday. In the U.S. legal system, a grand jury convenes in secret to hear evidence and decide whether to indict a defendant.
 
Dominique Strauss-Kahn: portrait of a political heavyweight
Strauss-Kahn, who denies the charges, is in detention.
 
The arrest dashed his prospects for the French presidency and raised broader issues over the future of the International Monetary Fund. Developing countries, looking to a succession, questioned Europe's hold on the IMF leadership.
 
Suicide watch
 
The United States, the IMF's biggest shareholder, said Strauss-Kahn was unable to carry on being chief of the global lender from a jail cell, whatever the legal outcome.
 
"I can't comment on the case but he is obviously not in a position to run the IMF," Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said on Tuesday, calling for an interim chief to be named.
 
European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said Europe would naturally put forward a candidate to replace Strauss-Kahn if he were to step down.
 
Germany, which wants a European to keep the job, said the IMF should deal with its immediate leadership internally and that it was too early to discuss a successor to Strauss-Kahn.
 
French officials said John Lipsky, the IMF's American number two whose term expires in August, would represent the Fund at next week's Group of Eight summit in France.
 
China, Brazil and South Africa questioned Europe's traditional right to the top job but Europeans said it made sense for them to retain the post while the Fund plays such a crucial role in helping to ease the euro zone debt crisis.
 
Strauss-Kahn is expected to remain in New York's Rikers Island jail, known for gang violence, at least until his next court appearance on Friday, when his lawyers may again request bail. Any trial could be six months away.
 
If convicted, Strauss-Kahn could face 25 years in prison. A law enforcement source said he had been placed on suicide watch but purely as a precautionary measure.
 
In the only public hint of Strauss-Kahn's possible line of defence, his attorney Benjamin Brafman told his arraignment hearing on Monday: "The evidence we believe will not be consistent with a forcible encounter."
 
But Shapiro said his client, an asylum seeker from Guinea with a 15-year-old daughter, told Reuters she had not been aware of Strauss-Kahn's identity until a day after the alleged attack.
 
"She didn't have any idea who he was or have any prior dealings with this guy," Shapiro said.
 
"She wants to remain anonymous because she's very much afraid that something could happen to her physically, she feels very threatened by this," he said of the global attention.
 
A set-up?
 
An opinion poll in France, taken before Strauss-Kahn's first court appearance on Monday and released on Wednesday, showed 57 percent of respondents thought the Socialist politician -- who had been front-runner for the 2012 election -- was definitely or probably the victim of a plot.
 
Fully 70 percent of Socialist sympathizers took that view, the CSA poll found. Most French media have dismissed conspiracy theories.
 
The lawyers: key players in the DSK case
The poll findings highlighted a cultural divide, with French Socialist politicians and commentators denouncing the public parading of Strauss-Kahn, unshaven and in handcuffs, before he has had a chance to defend himself.
 
New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg agreed such a display was humiliating and would be unfair if a defendant were to be found innocent. "But if you don't want to do the 'perp walk', don't do the crime," he told reporters.
 
U.S. media have criticised the French for a tradition of secrecy on politicians' sex lives and for showing more compassion for Strauss-Kahn than for the alleged rape victim, whose identity some French newspapers have published.
 
The French daily Liberation said the IMF chief had told its editors in off-record comments last month that he had just the right qualities to lead France, notably a calm manner, in contrast to conservative President Nicolas Sarkozy.
 
"Today I fit with everything the French people want -- recognised competence, calm, international experience," he was quoted as having said at an April 28 meeting.
 
European job
 
The IMF said it had not been in touch with Strauss-Kahn since his arrest but it would be important to do so "in due course." Two IMF board sources told Reuters the board would ask Strauss-Kahn whether he planned to continue in his post.
 
In his absence, Lipsky is temporarily in charge of the institution that manages the world economy and is in the midst of helping euro zone states like Greece, Ireland and Portugal.
 
The White House is considering proposing David Lipton, President Barack Obama's international economic adviser and a former deputy treasury secretary, to replace Lipsky when his term expires in August, sources familiar with the matter said.
 
A European has held the post of managing director since the IMF was created in 1945 and four of them have been French.
 
French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde is thought to be interested in the post but her prospects have been clouded by a decision this month by a Paris public prosecutor to recommend an inquiry into her role in awarding financial compensation to a prominent businessman in 2008.
 
Emerging countries are starting to flex their muscle over who should succeed Strauss-Kahn, who had been expected to leave soon anyway to run for the French presidency.
 
China said on Tuesday the selection of the next IMF boss should be based on "fairness, transparency and merit." It marked the first time that the Fund's third-largest member has weighed in so publicly on an IMF selection debate.
 
South African Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan and a senior Brazilian official, who asked not to be named, said the next chief should be from a developing country, pressing a case to give emerging economies a greater say in world affairs.
 
That sentiment was echoed by Chile.
 
"Without forgetting that there are people with much merit in industrialized countries, we also believe that there are people in the emerging world fully capable of leading the monetary fund," said Chilean Finance Minister Felipe Larrain.
 
But Brazilian Finance Minister Guido Mantega said the affair should not be used to press for changes in the way the IMF head is picked, telling GloboNews TV the discussion "is too premature at this point" and Strauss-Kahn was "probably one of the best IMF chiefs that we had in the past years."
 
Canadian Finance Minister Jim Flaherty also weighed in, saying IMF members were discussing what steps to take, and he touted Bank of Canada Governor Mark Carney as a candidate for the top IMF job.

 

Date created : 2011-05-18

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