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Video: IMF chief accused of NYC sex attack

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    >> one of the most influential bankers in the world and a possible candidate for the presidency of france is due in court this morning after he was arrested and charged with sexual assault at a hotel. jeff rossen is there. good morning.

    >> reporter: good morning. just to give you an idea how powerful he is; he runs the international monetary fund that controls a trillion dollars. he travels well and he was in new york this weekend staying at one of the nicest, most expensive suites at one of the nicest hotels in the city. police say inside the sofitel he grabbed a hotel maid, locked the door and sexually assaulted her twice. this morning he's gone from luxury to jail. you may not recognize his face or his name but make no mistake, dominique starauss- kahn is one of the leaders of the world. as leaderer of the imf he lends money to countries in crisis. he was about to run for president of france . now, police say, he's a sexual predator .

    >> this is very big because it throws into disarray the leadership of the biggest financial institution in the world.

    >> reporter: strauss-kahn was staying in a $3,000-a-night suite at manhattan's ritzy sofitel near times square . he came out of the shower naked, saw the maid in his room. he allegedly sexually assaulted her on the bed, dragged her to the bathroom and sexually assaulted her again.

    >> he intends to defend the charges and denies wrongdoing.

    >> reporter: police say he almost got away. officers rushed an air france flight over the weekend and yanked strauss-kahn out of his first class seat moments before takeoff. suddenly the world's power broker was under arrest.

    >> a moment possibly of madness in this hotel as head of the imf , potential presidential candidate . the timing couldn't be worse. of course whether he's guilty or not, this is already smeared him.

    >> reporter: police say the maid picked strauss-kahn out of a line-up and they have physical evidence including his cell phone left in the hotel room . that's not all. law enforcement sources tell nbc news they have recovered bodily fluids, dna from the scene. late sunday night, prosecutors took dna from strauss-kahn himself, looking for a match.

    >> our client willingly consented to a scientific and forensic examination tonight. he's tired but fine.

    >> reporter: strauss-kahn is married to an american-born journalist, his third wife. he's been involved in sex scandals before, dubbed the grand seducer by the french media . in 2002 a woman in her 20s accused him of sexualry attacking her, no charges filed. in 2008 strauss-kahn add mimitted to an affair at the imf . his wife stood by him and now finds herself stuck in the middle yet again. in fact, his wife released a statement about the latest case defending him saying, quote, i don't believe for one second the accusations against my husband. matt, we should tell you we are learning more this morning about the hotel maid in this case, the accuser, a 32-year-old african immigrant living in the bronx. mr. strauss-kahn will be in court today. meanwhile his job with the imf is in jeopardy. they have already temporarily replaced him on the board, matt.

    >> jeff rossen , thank you very much. christopher dickie is newsweek's middle east regional editor. good morning.

    >> reporter: always a pleasure, matt.

    >> this story is getting a lot of attention here in the states. what's the response in france ?

    >> reporter: it's huge. every front page has the story. the tabloids have pictures of a chagrined-looking strauss-kahn . people hanging on every detail to figure out what happened.

    >> jeff rossen laid out the background for us, some of the situations he was involved with in the past. would it be safe to say the people in france feel this fits some kind of a profile with this guy?

    >> reporter: not exactly. people knew he was a womanizer. he certainly had the reputation. he's been married three times. his name's been linked to various women, but not generally speak iing in a violent sense except for one woman who went on tv in 2007 , five years after the events who said he tried to rain h -- rape her.

    >> by all accounts this is a guy with plans for the future in france . talk to me about his political power considering he was announcinging he was running for president next year.

    >> well, he was almost certainly going to announce he would run for president. all the polls showed if he ran for president, at least two days ago, if he had run for president he would have beaten nicolas sarkozy . he was leading by a wide margin. the socialist party , except for one or two people, was pulling back and saying this guy is going to be our candidate. it couldn't be announced mainly because he was still running the imf and had to wait until the right moment which everybody expected would be next month. now he probably won't be able to come back to france next month.

    >> in this country and most countries you are innocent until proven guilty in the eyes of the law, but the eyes of voters can be different. we are seeing him in a perp walk . does that end his political future?

    >> reporter: of course. they certainly end any possibility that he will be running for president of france any time soon. now, it is conceivable that if a few months from now, a year from now he's cleared on these charges, he could come back to government life. he could come back as a minister in a socialist government. but dominique strauss-kahn as president of france which is what everybody in france thought would happen, that's not going to happen now.

    >> talk to me about the con spir toirl aspect of this. i read your reporting over the weekend where there are people speculating that this was a chance encounter. that, in fact, strauss-kahn was set up. some have speculated -- i'm talking his political enemies -- that nicolas sarkozy could have been behind something like this. take me through it.

    >> reporter: well, i think you have to start with the question of nicolas sarkozy 's reputation. he's seen as a ruthless, no holds barred politician. some people compare him to the gangster actor joe pesci in his manner. it's a reason the french don't like him. they don't like his style. the minute his main political rival falls into this bizarre, horrible situation in new york and is accused of crimes and taken on a perp walk , many people automatically assume nicolas sarkozy must have had something to do with it. of course, nobody has proof. there is not any indication. one sarkozy adviser i spoke to said if he were going to do this he would have waited until closer to the vote. all conspiracy, no facts.

    >> christopher dickie, nice to see you. thank you very much.

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