Reporting Kathryn Brown
NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – The high-ranking French businessman accused of trying to rape a hotel housekeeper pleaded not guilty in court Monday.
Dominique Strauss-Kahn, former head of the International Monetary Fund and once a leading candidate for the French presidency, had previously declared his innocence and had been expected to fight the charges.
The 62-year-old departed his rented, $14 million luxury townhouse in TriBeCa early Monday. He was greeted by a crush of media, who had been waiting to catch a glimpse of the high-profile suspect. He quickly stepped into a dark vehicle and sped away.
Over 100 hotel workers bused in by their union were among those who greeted Strauss-Kahn when he arrived at the courthouse. They chanted “shame on you.”
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“We, as women, should be respected – it doesn’t matter what job you do,” Rosalyn Edgar, who works at Essex House Hotel, told CBS 2’s Tony Aiello.
“I feel really, really sad, and on top of that I feel really insecure,” Ramada Inn & Plaza employee Aissata Bocum said.
Joining Strauss-Kahn at his court appearance were his wife Anne Sinclair and his defense team. Strauss-Kahn wore a dark suit and blue tie.
State Supreme Court Justice Michael Orbus read through various formalities and notified Strauss-Kahn his next court date was July 18.
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Strauss-Kahn’s lawyer spoke briefly after the financier’s court appearance.
“Once the evidence is reviewed, it will be clear that there was no element of forcible compulsion in this case whatsoever,” attorney Benjamin Brafman said. “Any suggestion to the contrary is simply not credible.”
The housekeeper has lawyers, too, and they told reporters the defense is trying to smear her good name.
“The victim wants you to know that all of Dominique Strauss-Kahn’s power and money and influence throughout the world will not keep the truth about what he did to her in that hotel room from coming out,” attorney Kenneth Thompson said.
Strauss-Kahn’s new neighbors are familiar with celebrities in their neighborhood, and seem to be taking the media presence in stride.
“You’re used to all this commotion going around, so this is no different,” one resident said.
On the streets of TriBeCa, many were saying they’re glad the legal system in this case appears to be working.
“The fact that despite whatever money and power he may have, he’s treated according to the system, I think that’s very encouraging,” said Andy Bragg, tourist from Florida.
The 32-year-old housekeeper’s lawyer said that she remains too traumatized to return to work at the Sofitel. He rejected any suggestion that she might take a payoff and stop cooperating, insisting she’ll take the witness stand if the case comes to trial.