NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — Lawyers for a New York City hotel maid who accuses former International Monetary Fund leader Dominique Strauss-Kahn of sexually assaulting her say he should explain his version of their encounter in an upcoming French TV interview.
Attorneys Kenneth Thompson and Douglas Wigdor said Friday people deserve to hear Strauss-Kahn “answer pointed questions about his conduct.” They note Guinean maid Nafissatou Diallo answered questions in July interviews and gave a detailed account of the May 14 encounter.
Sunday’s French TV interview would be Strauss-Kahn’s first since his May arrest on charges of forcing a Diallo to perform oral sex and trying to rape her.
Strauss-Kahn, 62, spent almost a week in jail, six weeks on house arrest and nearly two more months barred from leaving the country before Manhattan prosecutors dropped the case last week, saying they no longer trusted the maid, Guinean immigrant Nafissatou Diallo.
Strauss-Kahn has been free to travel internationally since his passport was returned in August. He’d told reporters he was eager to return to France, but he first took a trip to Washington, D.C., on Monday to bid farewell to former IMF colleagues at the lending agency’s headquarters. He had resigned days after his arrest.
Until his arrest, Strauss-Kahn was considered the Socialist Party’s front-runner to take on conservative French President Nicolas Sarkozy next year. Socialists have rejoiced in the dismissal of the criminal case against Strauss-Kahn, but few observers in France expect a political return from him anytime soon.
“This is a man who has suffered. It is a man who will obviously take some time to get his bearings,” his biographer, Michel Taubmann, told The Associated Press.
Strauss-Kahn also will have to contend with a sexual assault allegation that surfaced in France after his New York arrest. Authorities are investigating novelist Tristane Banon’s complaint that Strauss-Kahn tried to rape her while she was interviewing him in 2002 — an incident her mother, a regional Socialist official, has said she discouraged her from reporting at the time but is now encouraging her to pursue.
Strauss-Kahn’s lawyers have called Banon’s account “imaginary.”
He still faces Diallo’s lawsuit in New York, though it’s unclear when he might have to be in New York for the civil case. Lawsuits can take years to play out, and defendants aren’t required to come to court dates, as they generally are in criminal cases. She’s seeking unspecified damages.
Diallo, 33, says Strauss-Kahn chased her down in his suite and attacked her after she arrived to clean it. Prosecutors said DNA evidence shows they had a sexual encounter; his lawyers say it was consensual.
After initially portraying Diallo as a compelling witness, prosecutors developed doubts about her credibility. She had told them a concocted tale of having been gang-raped in the past, among other falsehoods about her background, and they said she gave varying versions of her actions immediately after her encounter with Strauss-Kahn.
“We simply no longer have confidence beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant is guilty,” prosecutors wrote in a court filing last week.
Diallo has said she’s telling the truth about being attacked. One of her lawyers, Douglas Wigdor, has said prosecutors’ decision to abandon the criminal case “is an affront to Ms. Diallo and to all victims who come forward in the future.”
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