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A decade on, Strauss-Kahn to give his version of New York sex-assault case

Former IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn in Paris in September 2018.
Former IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn in Paris in September 2018. © Joel Saget, AFP/Archives
4 min

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the former IMF chief and presidential hopeful whose career was derailed in 2011 by a sensational New York sex-assault case, has said he will give his version of events “for the first time” in a documentary due to be released a decade after the events.

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“For the first time, I have agreed to make a documentary film in which I look back over my entire personal and professional history from French politics to the international spheres,” Strauss-Kahn, who resigned from the IMF at the height of the scandal, wrote on his Twitter account on Friday. 

“I have never given my own version of the events that marked my withdrawal from political life; others have made it for me, speaking from press releases, interviews and real or supposed facts. The time has come for me to speak out,” he added.

A former French finance minister, Strauss-Kahn, known as “DSK” in France, was seen as the left’s best chance of winning the 2012 presidential election until his sudden arrest on May 14, 2011, aboard an Air France jet at New York's Kennedy International Airport, on charges of sexually assaulting a hotel housekeeper

A dishevelled Strauss-Kahn was paraded in handcuffs before international news cameras, which followed every step of the investigation into his nine-minute encounter with the Sofitel hotel maid. 

The charges were eventually dropped after doubts arose over the accuser’s credibility. Strauss-Kahn’s lawyers had said from the start that the brusque encounter with the Guinean maid in his luxury suite was sexual but consensual and non-violent.

A separate civil suit was settled between Strauss-Kahn and his accuser, for an undisclosed amount.

Later that year, French writer Tristane Banon dropped separate charges against DSK after state prosecutors halted an investigation into her claim that he sexually assaulted her in 2003, saying the statute of limitations had expired.

‘A moral error’

The sensational “DSK Affair” set off a wave of muckraking into his sex life and sparked soul-searching in France over a perceived tradition of hushing up sexual escapades by politicians and other public figures.

Strauss-Kahn's own reputation was further tarnished years later amid an investigation into a prostitution ring centred on the Carlton Hotel in Lille, though he was acquitted of pimping charges.

Following his return to France in September 2011, Strauss-Kahn gave a televised interview in which he apologised to his country for what he described as a “moral error” he would regret all his life.

“It was a moral error, and I am not proud of it,” Strauss-Kahn told TF1 in a primetime interview watched by millions. “I regret it, infinitely, and I don’t think I am finished with regretting it.”

Sounding repentant but also defensive over the rush to judge him as a criminal for a private act he said involved no violence, the former IMF chief said he had “lost everything” over the incident. He also ruled out a run for the Élysée Palace.

At the time, many in his entourage openly nurtured suspicions that their champion had been framed to wreck his chances of running for president. DSK himself has since kept a low profile.

In his tweet on Friday, Strauss-Kahn said the documentary featuring his version of events would be released in autumn 2021. 

In a separate project, Netflix will release a documentary series centred on the “DSK Affair”, directed by French filmmaker and actor Jalil Lespert, starting next Monday.

 

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