msnbc.com staff and news service reports
updated 8/4/2011 2:58:09 PM ET 2011-08-04T18:58:09

Air France once ordered that only male staff could serve Dominique Strauss-Kahn when the former IMF boss traveled on its planes, a French newspaper reported Thursday.

Le Parisien newspaper also said that lawyers for Nafissatou Diallo, the New York hotel maid who accused Strauss-Kahn of sexually assaulting her, are seeking testimony from Air France female flight attendants who allegedly suffered inappropriate behavior by him.

An Air France spokesman, however, rebuffed the report.

Image: Dominique Strauss-Kahn
Fred Dufour  /  AFP - Getty Images
Dominique Strauss-Kahn, former International Monetary Fund managing director

"Air France formally denies having given any instruction about the composition of its crews," he told AFP, the French news agency.

Le Parisien said Diallo's lawyers received at least two statements from crew members harassed by Strauss-Kahn.

The paper quoted the lawyers as saying that "this inexplicable mindset which enables him to abuse women is further proof which gives credibility to the aggression suffered by Ms. Diallo on May 14."

The lawyers — Kenneth Thompson and Douglas Wigdor — were not immediately available for comment on Le Parisien's report.

The report of the all-male staff order was contained in an anonymous letter allegedly written by an airline crew member who does not want to appear on any witness lists, Le Parisien said. It cited the letter, which said the rules applied in first-class, where Strauss-Kahn sat:

"Air France has a few hundred complaints from clients, employees, crew members who met the man suspected of having abused your client Madame Diallo. ...  It was decided by Air France that 'only male employees should be deployed in the first class cabin when this client [Strauss-Kahn] was traveling.'"

Representatives of several unions at the airline told AFP that their members had not reported any inappropriate behavior by the former IMF boss, who frequently traveled on Air France jets between the United States and Europe.

Strauss-Kahn, 62, a veteran French politician who had been considered a French presidential candidate, has denied seven charges of attempted rape and sexual assault arising out of the incident in his luxury Sofitel hotel suite in Manhattan.

Strauss-Kahn was hauled off an Air France flight from New York's JFK to Paris just hours after the alleged hotel attack. The politician had a long-standing arrangement with the airline which allowed him to take his seat on whatever flight he wanted, the New York Post reported.

Thompson has warned of a civil suit even if Strauss-Kahn escapes criminal trial. The ex-IMF chief's lawyers accuse the maid of seeking a big payday through such a civil suit.

A Frenchwoman claiming to be an ex-lover of Strauss-Kahn said last week she would testify in the Diallo criminal case if asked.

Another Frenchwoman, the writer Tristane Banon, 32, has brought legal action against him alleging that he tried to rape her in Paris in 2003. Strauss-Kahn has also denied that allegation.

Diallo, 32, has embarked on a media campaign experts say is designed to either pressure prosecutors to press on with their case or raise the stakes before a possible civil settlement. Prosecutors have expressed concerns about the case. 

The next court hearing for the case is scheduled Aug. 23.

Reuters contributed to this report.

Video: Did going public help or hurt DSK accuser’s case?

  1. Closed captioning of: Did going public help or hurt DSK accuser’s case?

    >>> we're back now at 7:42 with the latest of the dominique strauss-kahn case. on monday the hotel maid at the center of the case spoke out saying she wants him to go to jail after he allegedly attacked her in a luxury manhattan hotel. but prosecutors were under pressure to drop the case in the wake of revelation that the alleged victim lied about certain things in her past. so did her interviews help or hurt the prosecution? savannah guthrie is today's legal correspondent. savannah, good morning.

    >> good morning.

    >> the accuser in this case speaks out saying she wants to protect her side of the story. her lawyer gave a 20-minute news conference, talking about the events of that day. and some have started to question whether he has acted ethically at this stage of the case. there's a code of conduct for lawyers. rule 3.6a says a lawyer shall not make extra judicial statement or an extrajudicial statement that the lawyer knows or reasonably should know will have a substantial likelihood of materially prejudicing and adjudicative proceeding in the matter. basically you should not speak out and negatively influence a case at this stage. did he break that ethical rule?

    >> defense lawyers for dominique strauss-kahn came out and said this breach's lawyer's ethics, the rule you just read. it's always a gray area because defense lawyer is permitted to speak out on behalf of his client. and, in fact, that same rule you cite has what you could call a safe harbor provision, that says a lawyer may make a statement that a reasonable lawyer would believe is required to protect the client from the substantial undue prejudicial effect of recent publicity.

    >> there's been a lot of that.

    >> there has. the prosecutors have had to say in open court they have serious questions about the accuser's credibility so i think the defense lawyer should argue i had no choice but to put my client out there.

    >> she granted a series of interviews and they will be heard by the public. it occurs to me the person she wants to hear that interview more than anyone is the district attorney in this case who is under pressure to drop it because after you hear the details of what she says happened in that hotel room , isn't it going to be very hard for him to stand up and say, we're dropping the case?

    >> it's very odd circumstances, extremely unorthodox for any attorney to put out the complaining witness to out her publicly in order not to counter what some defense lawyer has said tarnishing her but what the prosecutors who would be bringing this trial to case. number one, there's no question this is designed to pressure the prosecutor, put public pressure on the prosecutor.

    >> we should mention she granted these interviews without consulting the prosecutor for advisor seeking his approval.

    >> that was the second point. this signals a real rift between the complaining witness who should be the star witness in a rape case and prosecutors because there is no way any prosecutor looking to try a case would put his complaining witness out on television giving multiple accounts of this story so a future defense lawyer could pick over it.

    >> while he words could be powerful, it can be a double edged sword because now she's on the record again telling a version of the story. if it's not the same as the verge she's already told to investigators, that's a problem.

    >> fairly or unfairly, this is defense attorney fodder. they will pick over the inconsistencies between this statement and every other account this alleged victim has given. the other thing about it, i think in terms of the strength of this case, what struck me most is that the prosecutors say when she recounted a prior allegation of rape she made a false allegation of a gang rape in her native country . they said she was distraught, she looked upset. there are huge credibility problems with this case. that's why the prosecutors are considering dropping it. and this attorney bringing his client out there does not help the prosecutor make this decision. the prosecutor wants to be able to quietly, such as it is, do the investigation and determine whether this case can be proven beyond a reasonable doubt .

    >> we will continue to watch what happens. savannah guthrie , thank you.

Timeline: Dominique Strauss-Kahn

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