NEW YORK: Former IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn entered a plea of not guilty on Monday to charges he sexually assaulted a New York hotel maid in a case that cost him his job and a chance at the French presidency.
Wearing a dark suit, Strauss-Kahn arrived at the courthouse with his wife, French television journalist Anne Sinclair, walking beside him, arm-in-arm.
The couple walked past a throng of media and a large group of hotel workers there in solidarity with the woman who said Strauss-Kahn attacked her. ”Shame on you,” they chanted.
Strauss-Kahn, 62, faces up to 25 years in prison if convicted on charges including attempted rape, sex abuse, a criminal sex act, unlawful imprisonment and forcible touching.
Strauss-Kahn was asked what plea he would enter to the charges and he told the court clerk, ”Not guilty.” The next date in the case at New York Supreme Court before Judge Michael Obus was set for July 18.
Praised for his role tackling the 2007-09 global financial crisis and attempts to keep Europe’s debt crisis under control, Strauss-Kahn resigned as managing director of the International Monetary Fund a few days after his May 14 arrest in the first-class section of an Air France plane, minutes before it was to depart New York for Paris.
He was accused of attacking a 32-year-old African immigrant a few hours earlier when she came to clean his suite at the luxury Sofitel hotel in Midtown Manhattan, apparently believing it had been vacated.
Strauss-Kahn, who has four daughters, denies the charges. Monday’s arraignment marks the start of what could be lengthy legal proceedings.
A new IMF chief has not yet been appointed. French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde and Mexican central bank chief Agustin Carstens both want to replace Strauss-Kahn.
Until the New York arrest, Strauss-Kahn had been expected to quit his IMF post for a different reason — a bid to become the Socialist candidate for president of France. He had been a strong favorite to beat conservative President Nicolas Sarkozy at the polls next year.
Instead, Strauss-Kahn spent four days in New York’s Rikers Island jail before he was released on $1 million cash bail and $5 million bond and placed under house arrest with 24-hour armed guards and electronic monitoring. (Reuters)