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IMF director resigns amid sex charges

Dominique Strauss-Kahn resigned as head of the International Monetary Fund, the IMF said in a statement issued Wednesday as he faced charges of sexual assault and attempted rape.
/ Source: NBC News and news services

Dominique Strauss-Kahn resigned as head of the International Monetary Fund, the IMF said in a statement issued Wednesday as he faced charges of sexual assault and attempted rape in New York.

"I deny with the greatest possible firmness all of the allegations that have been made against me," Strauss-Kahn said in his letter of resignation, released by the IMF.

He said the resignation came with "infinite sadness" but was needed to protect the IMF, "which I have served with honor and devotion."

"I think at this time first of my wife — whom I love more than anything-of my children, of my family, of my friends.

"I think also of my colleagues at the Fund; together we have accomplished such great things over the last three years and more."

He said he would "devote all my strength, all my time, and all my energy to proving my innocence."

The IMF said John Lipsky would remain the institution's acting managing director and that its executive board will soon reveal the process of replacing Strauss-Kahn.

The hotel maid accusing Strauss-Kahn of trying to rape her "has not had a moment of peace" since their encounter made international headlines, her lawyer said Wednesday.

The woman, a 32-year-old immigrant from the west African nation of Guinea, was to testify before a grand jury sometime Wednesday about the incident at a penthouse suite at a luxury hotel in midtown Manhattan, lawyer Jeffrey Shapiro said on NBC's TODAY.

"This is a woman who is a rape victim — the victim of a physical assault — who since this has taken place and since she has reported it to security at the hotel, has not had a moment of peace. She's not been able to return home. She's not been able to seek any help," said Shapiro, a New York City personal injury lawyer.

She has gone into hiding amid fears for her family's safety, he said.

The woman is a widow with a 15-year-old daughter. They moved to New York from Guinea about seven years ago, Shapiro said.

"She came from a part of the world where laws were few and far between and that justice wasn't readily available, at least to people without means," Shapiro told TODAY. "When she found out that this encounter that she had had was with a man of great power and wealth, she fears not only for herself but maybe more importantly her daughter."

Prosecutors have accused Strauss-Kahn, 62, of attacking the maid Saturday afternoon when she entered his suite at the Sofitel Hotel, apparently unaware it was occupied, to clean it.

Prosecutors allege Strauss-Kahn attempted to rape her and then, when unsuccessful, forced her to perform oral sex on him.

Strauss-Kahn, one of France's most high-profile politicians who was a potential candidate for president in next year's elections, through his lawyers has denied any wrongdoing. He is being held under suicide watch in a jail at Rikers Island on charges of a criminal sexual act, attempted rape, sexual abuse, unlawful imprisonment and forcible touching. He was denied bail on Monday and is due to reappear in court on Thursday for another bail hearing.

In court papers filed Wednesday, Strauss-Kahn's attorneys proposed posting $1 million cash bail and confining him to the home of his daughter, Camille, a Columbia University graduate student, 24 hours a day with electronic monitoring.

Strauss-Kahn "is a loving husband and father, and a highly regarded diplomat, politician, lawyer, politician, economist and professor, with no criminal record," his attorneys said in court papers.

The attorneys had proposed similar conditions at an earlier bail hearing but added the promise of home detention Wednesday. Manhattan prosecutors didn't immediately comment on the bail motion. The hearing was set for 2:15 p.m. Thursday. Another hearing had been set for Friday, the deadline for prosecutors to indict Strauss-Kahn.

He faces up to 25 years in prison if convicted.

Shapiro said his client was told by a friend a day after the incident that the man she had accused of attacking her was Strauss-Kahn.

"She feels that she can't go home," Shapiro said, adding that his client felt "scared" and "incredulous" after learning his identity.

Shapiro dismissed suggestions that the woman had made up the charges or tried to cover up a consensual encounter.

"There was nothing consensual about what took place in that hotel room," he told TODAY.

Investigators on Wednesday cut out a piece of carpet in a painstaking search for DNA evidence that could corroborate the maid's claim, law enforcement officials said.

New York detectives and prosecutors believe the carpet may contain Strauss-Kahn's semen, spat out after an episode of forced oral sex, the officials said, speaking to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity.

In addition to examining the Sofitel Hotel suite for further potential DNA evidence, they were looking at the maid's keycard to determine whether she used it to enter the room, and how long she was there, officials said.

'No agenda'
Earlier, Shapiro told Reuters that after the woman "escaped from the room, she reported it to security, the New York City police were called, they interviewed her, they investigated the scene."

"She has no agenda in this other than to answer the questions that are asked of her, to tell the truth," he said.

The woman, who is not a U.S. citizen but says she has a visa to work in the U.S., has a limited education and experience, but had worked hard to obtain her job as a maid at the Sofitel, Shapiro said.

Her identity has been withheld in U.S. media publications, in accordance with standard journalistic practice. But media outlets in France, where Strauss-Kahn is from, began reporting her name Tuesday.

Among the outlets to identify the woman by name are Paris Match, radio station RMC, Swiss newspaper Tribune de Genève and Slate.fr, . (Slate.fr is a French website that is editorially independent from Slate, although Slate does own 15 percent of it.)

Slate.fr, citing relatives of the accuser, said the woman was from the Fulani ethnic group and a Muslim.

"She is a good Muslim. She is really pretty, like many Fulani women, but in our culture, we do not accept this type of aggression," a cousin of the woman told slate.fr.

The she was granted asylum seven years ago.

The woman phoned her older brother in New York about an hour after the alleged sexual assault and said, "Somebody has done something really bad to me. I've been attacked," .

"No family should have to go through this," the woman's brother told the newspaper. "She is a hard-working woman who is just a victim. She is a wonderful West African immigrant who just wants to work hard."