Image: IMF Director Dominique Strauss-Kahn in federal court
Emannuel Dunand  /  Pool via Getty Images
Dominique Strauss-Kahn, head of the International Monetary Fund, stands with his laywer Benjamin Brafman (left) as they appear in federal court on Monday in New York City.
msnbc.com staff and news service reports
updated 5/16/2011 7:09:37 PM ET 2011-05-16T23:09:37

A judge on Monday ordered the head of the International Monetary Fund to remain jailed at least until his next court hearing on charges he tried to rape a hotel maid, a crushing blow for the man until recently seen as a front-runner for the French presidency and who oversaw world finance.

Looking haggard and with a light stubble after a weekend in jail, Dominique Strauss-Kahn listened as prosecutors described in graphic detail to a Manhattan Criminal Court judge what they said was his sexual attack on the woman and a subsequent attempt to leave the country.
"The charges and the underlying conduct here are severe," said Assistant District Attorney John "Ardie" McConnell.

He called the IMF chief a flight risk to France and urged the judge to keep Strauss-Kahn behind bars. "They do not extradite their nationals," he said.

Defense lawyers failed to win $1 million bail for Strauss-Kahn. They denied the charges against their client, whose arrest has thrown the IMF into turmoil.

In France, a lawyer for a novelist said the writer is likely to file a criminal complaint accusing Strauss-Kahn of sexually assaulting her nine years ago.

Strauss-Kahn's weekend arrest rocked the financial world as the IMF grapples with the European debt crisis, and upended French presidential politics. Strauss-Kahn, a member of France's Socialist party, was widely considered the strongest potential challenger next year to President Nicolas Sarkozy.

On Monday, a grim-looking Strauss-Kahn stood slumped before the judge in a dark raincoat and open-collared shirt. The 62-year-old, silver-haired Strauss-Kahn said nothing as a lawyer professed his innocence and strove in vain to get him released on bail.

The judge ruled against him after prosecutors warned that the wealthy banker might flee to France and put himself beyond the reach of U.S. law.

Video: Click here to watch the entire hearing

"This battle has just begun," defense attorney Benjamin Brafman told scores of reporters outside the courthouse, adding that Strauss-Kahn might appeal the bail denial.

Strauss-Kahn is accused of attacking a maid who had gone in to clean his penthouse suite Saturday afternoon at a luxury hotel near Times Square. He is charged with attempted rape, sex abuse, a criminal sex act, unlawful imprisonment and forcible touching. The most serious charge carries five to 25 years in prison.

Strauss-Kahn, who has headed the international lending agency since 2007, was in New York on personal business and was paying his own way, so he cannot claim diplomatic immunity, the IMF said. He could seek that protection only if he were conducting official business, spokesman William Murray said.

Get the latest on this story at breakingnews.com

The French newspaper Le Monde, citing people close to Strauss-Kahn, said he had reserved the suite at the Sofitel hotel for one night for a quick trip to have lunch with his daughter, who is studying in New York.

The 32-year-old maid told authorities that she thought the suite was empty but that Strauss-Kahn emerged from the bathroom naked, chased her down a hallway, pulled her into a bedroom and dragged her into a bathroom, police said.

He seized her breasts, tried to pull down her pantyhose, grabbed at her crotch and forced her to perform oral sex on him, according to a court complaint. She ultimately broke free, escaped the room and told hotel staffers what had happened, authorities said. She was treated at a hospital for minor injuries.

Story: Strauss-Kahn sex case roils French election

"The victim provided a very powerful and detailed account of the violent sexual assault, McConnell told the court. He added that forensic evidence may support her account. Strauss-Kahn voluntarily submitted to a forensic examination Sunday night.

Brafman said defense lawyers believe the forensic evidence "will not be consistent with a forcible encounter." He would not elaborate except to say that "there are significant issues that we have already found" that "make it quite likely that he will be exonerated of these charges."

Prosecutors asked the judge to hold Strauss-Kahn without bail, noting that he lives in France, is wealthy, has an international job and was arrested on a Paris-bound plane at Kennedy Airport. He had left the Sofitel hotel before police arrived, leaving his cell phone behind, and appeared hurried on surveillance recordings, authorities said.

Prosecutors said they couldn't force his return from France if he went there.

"He would be living openly and notoriously in France, just like Roman Polanski," said Chief Assistant District Attorney Daniel Alonso, referring to the film director long sought by California authorities for sentencing in a 1977 child sex case. Swiss police arrested him in 2009, but he was freed last year when Switzerland declined to extradite him to the United States.

Defense lawyers suggested bail be set at $1 million and promised that the IMF managing director would remain in New York City. Brafman said Strauss-Kahn wasn't trying to elude police Saturday: The IMF head rushed out of the hotel to get to a lunch date, then caught a flight for which he had long had a ticket, his lawyer said.

Video: Judge denies bail to IMF chief

"This is not a case of someone who commits a crime, runs to the airport and jumps on the first available plane," Brafman said.

Still, Criminal Court Judge Melissa Jackson said the fact that Strauss-Kahn was on a plane when arrested "raises some concerns." She ordered him jailed at least until a court proceeding on Friday.

Timeline: Dominique Strauss-Kahn's career (on this page)

Strauss-Khan will be held in protective custody in the city's Rikers Island jail because of his high profile, said city Correction Department spokesman Stephen Morello. A complex of jails on a island near LaGuardia airport, Rikers is well-known to watchers of television and film crime dramas as the place where criminal suspects are sent pending trial or to serve short jail sentences.

Unlike most prisoners, who share 50-bed barracks, Strauss-Kahn will have a single-bed cell and eat all his meals alone there. Also, when he is outside his cell, he will have a prison-guard escort.

Meanwhile, a lawyer for 31-year-old French novelist Tristane Banon said she will probably file a complaint alleging Strauss-Kahn sexually attacked her in 2002. Lawyer David Koubbi told French radio RTL that Banon hadn't pressed her claim earlier because of "pressures" but would do so now because "she knows she'll be taken seriously."

Banon's mother, Anne Mansouret, a regional Socialist official in Normandy, said she had advised her daughter at the time against pursuing her claim.

A French lawmaker from a rival political party also alleged, without offering evidence, that Strauss-Kahn had victimized several maids during past stays at the Sofitel near Times Square.

The hotel issued a statement calling conservative lawmaker Michel Debre's claims "baseless and defamatory." Sofitel management "has had no knowledge of any previous attempted aggressions," the hotel said, adding that it had set up a hotline for workers to report incidents more than a year ago.

McConnell, the assistant district attorney, acknowledged in court Monday that New York authorities are investigating at least one other case of "conduct similar to the conduct alleged."

Defense lawyers said they understood the case was the one about the woman writer in France.

In France, defenders of Strauss-Kahn said they suspected he was the victim of a smear campaign.

The 187-nation IMF provides emergency loans to countries in severe distress and tries to maintain global financial stability.

In a statement Monday, the IMF said its executive board was briefed on the criminal charges against Strauss-Kahn and would "continue to monitor developments."

His wife, Anne Sinclair, defended him in a statement to French news agency AFP.

"I do not believe for one second the accusations brought against my husband. I have no doubt his innocence will be established," said Sinclair, a New York-born journalist who hosted a popular weekly TV news broadcast in France in the 1980s and '90s.

Strauss-Kahn makes an annual tax-free salary as head of the IMF of $420,930, plus an annual "scale of living" allowance of $75,350, according to a 2007 IMF press release.

According to the 2000 biography "Les Vies Cachees de DSK" by Vincent Giret and Veronique Le Billon, Anne Sinclair was one of France's highest-paid TV journalists before she gave up her job to avoid a possible conflict of interest when her husband became a government minister in 1997. The biography says Sinclair is also a wealthy heiress, whose grandfather Paul Rosenberg was a prominent modern art dealer before the Second World War.

French newspapers have inventoried the couple's real estate holdings, which reportedly include a six-room apartment in Paris' chic 16th arrondissement; a 240-square-meter apartment on the luxurious Place des Vosges; a home in Marrakech, and a house in Washington.

Strauss-Kahn's character had been questioned before. In 2008, he apologized for "an error of judgment after an affair with a female IMF economist who was his subordinate.

The fund's board warned him against improper conduct, but cleared him of harassment and abuse of power and kept him in his job.

The Associated Press, NBC News and Reuters contributed to this report.

Video: IMF chief denied bail over sexual assault charges

  1. Closed captioning of: IMF chief denied bail over sexual assault charges

    >>> now to a stunning arrest. one of the most powerful bankers in the world. the head of the international monetary fund is in jail here in new york tonight. charged with violent sex crimes at a manhattan hotel. he was a favorite in the french presidential elections where this news has gone off like a bomb. our report tonight from nbc's jeff rossen .

    >> step up.

    >> reporter: there he was, one of the world's most powerful men, disheveled, unshaven, and facing felonies. dominique shoutrous con head of the fund now charged with violent sex crimes against a maid inside this luxury manhattan hotel.

    >> restrained a hotel employee inside his room. he sexually assaulted her and attempted to forcibly rape her.

    >> reporter: prosecutors argued with his wealth and influence, he's an extreme flight risk. the judge agreed, no bail. he'll sit in jail awaiting trial. as leader of the inf, he controls a trillion dollars. he was even about to run for president of france, but this weekend inside his expensive suite at manhattan 's hotel, police say he went on the attack. sexually assaulting the maid on the bed, dragging her to the bathroom, and sexually assaulting her again. with the nrtd national press in a feeding frenzy, strauss khan's defense team sdpoek out of court.

    >> we'll prove in the government that he is innocent of this charges.

    >> guilty or not, many say this wim end his career and any hopes of winning the presidency. in the french media , already talking of conspiracy theories, that the current french president , nicklaolas sarkozy, could have shut him doup to shut him down.

    >> that's why they were suspecting, but there's no proof of this. this is all suspicion and conjec conjecture.

    >> reporter: but prosecutors say they have solid forensic evidence in this case, including dna they found inside the hotel suite where he was standing. they also have his own past. in 2002 , a young woman in her 20s acuecused him of attacking her. in 2008 , he admitted to an affair with a lower-level employee of the imf. today, he's in rijker's island.

    >> not far from us in

Timeline: Dominique Strauss-Kahn

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