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‘Libertine’ Strauss-Kahn admits orgies, denies prostitutes

An artist's impression of Strauss-Kahn giving evidence in the Lille court
An artist's impression of Strauss-Kahn giving evidence in the Lille court BENOIT PEYRUCQ / AFP

Disgraced former IMF boss Dominique Strauss-Kahn told a French court Tuesday he was unaware that any of the women participating in orgies he attended were paid, contrary to the assertion of one prostitute who insisted “it was obvious to anyone”.


Known in France by his initials DSK, the former French Socialist Party heavyweight is accused, with the majority of his 13 co-defendants, of illegally organising sex parties with prostitutes – an activity which would amount to “aggravated pimping” under French law.

DSK, as well as the other accused, denies the charges. He and three others giving evidence on Tuesday told the court in Lille, northern France, that they were simply “libertines” who enjoyed consensual group sex with like-minded women.

In confident and measured tones, he told the court there had only been a dozen of these encounters in three years but that he was “a libertine who likes to party”.

‘Libertine afternoons’

The 65-year-old told magistrates his friend and co-accused Fabrice Paszkowski would call him occasionally while he was based in New York as head of the IMF to suggest a “festive and playful” afternoon in Paris.

These afternoons took place between 2009 and 2011, a time when Strauss-Kahn told the court he was “saving the world” as head of the IMF at the height of the global financial crisis.

He went on to tell the court president that “during libertine afternoons like these, things happen pretty quickly” and that “it often happens that I have sex with women I’ve never met”.

Asked if he was aware that any of these women were prostitutes, he replied: “I really had no idea.”

When questioned over the risks his sexual proclivity was imposing on his promising political career, he replied: “I’ve always believed that everyone has the right to a private life, but that the risks I was taking were acceptable.

“If I had been [having sex] with prostitutes, that risk would have been ten times greater,” he added.

“I never had the slightest doubt in my mind about whether or not these women were being paid.

“I am horrified by the idea of using prostitutes ... I always believed that these women came for me, because of who I am.”

‘A relationship of force’

Strauss-Kahn’s evidence was in stark contrast to the evidence of one woman who attended a “libertine afternoon”, which took place in the spring of 2010 at the upmarket Murano hotel in Paris’s fashionable Marais district.

Speaking hesitantly and choking back tears, she told the court it was “obvious” that she, and the other women attending that particular party, “were prostitutes”.

The woman said she travelled to Paris from Lille in the company of three of the defendants present in the court on Tuesday, David Roquet, former senior police officer Jean-Christophe Lagarde and Paszkowski.

She told the court that she had been hired “explicitly to have sex with Strauss-Kahn”.

Describing the encounter, in which she found herself alone in a bedroom with Strauss-Kahn, she said: "Things took place, activities that were against nature. Things I wasn't used to. There wasn't any violence, it was a relationship of force."

Despite gesturing to him that she was uncomfortable with what Strauss-Kahn was doing to her and that she was crying at the time, she said that she continued to consent to the undefined sex act.

“It made me feel so small, she said. “But I really needed the money and I was scared I would not get paid if I objected.

"He was smiling from the beginning until the end," she added.

10 years jail

If he is convicted, Strauss-Kahn faces up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to 1.5 million euros.

He is charged with pimping, or procuring women for sex, because under French law any activity seen to be facilitating prostitution is illegal.

It is the first time during the three-week trail that Strauss-Kahn has responded to direct questioning, and follows the evidence of another two prostitutes who say they participated in the parties and were paid for their services.

A total of 14 people, including Strauss-Kahn, are defendants in the "Carlton Affair" trial, named after the Lille hotel where alleged prostitution and pimping sparked the investigation into a sex ring involving Strauss-Kahn.

Strauss-Kahn, who was French finance minister in the 1990s and went on to head the IMF from 2007, was widely expected to run for French president in the 2012 election against conservative incumbent Nicolas Sarkozy.

He was forced to withdraw following the damaging allegations that he had sexually assaulted hotel maid Nafissatou Diallo at the Sofitel New York Hotel in May 2011.

Criminal charges against him were eventually dropped – by which time the political damage was irreversible – and Strauss-Kahn settled civil proceedings brought against him by Diallo in New York.

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