September 22, 2023

City Room: Strauss-Kahn Pleads Not Guilty

Dominique Strauss-KahnMichael Appleton for The New York TimesDominique Strauss-Kahn, second from left, the former managing director of the International Monetary Fund, arriving at Manhattan Criminal Court.

Updated 10:55 a.m. | Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the former managing director of the International Monetary Fund, pleaded not guilty on Monday to charges that he sexually assaulted a hotel housekeeper.

In doing so, Mr. Strauss-Kahn uttered his first public words since the episode in the Sofitel New York, saying “not guilty” in a heavy French accent — setting the stage for a criminal trial in which Mr. Strauss-Kahn is expected to face his accuser.

Indeed, a lawyer for the housekeeper said on Monday that the woman intends to testify against Mr. Strauss-Kahn.

“She is going to come into this courthouse, get on that witness stand and tell the world what Dominique Strauss-Kahn did to her,” said Kenneth P. Thompson, the lead counsel for the woman.

Recreating an Encounter


An interactive diagram of the alleged assault.

The arraignment in Manhattan Criminal Court lasted all of four minutes, and proceeded as expected: Mr. Strauss-Kahn was formally charged in State Supreme Court in Manhattan on allegations that he tried to rape the 32-year-old room attendant at the Sofitel. Prosecutors also accuse him of forcing her to perform oral sex. The defense has indicated that it will argue that any sexual encounter was consensual.

“Once the evidence is reviewed it will be clear that there was no element of forcible compulsion whatsoever, any evidence to the contrary is simply not credible,” said Benjamin Brafman, one of Mr. Strauss-Kahn’s lawyers.

The frenzied interest in his case continued on Monday, with scores of reporters and camera crews stationed in the courtroom, outside the courthouse and even outside the townhouse in Lower Manhattan where Mr. Strauss-Kahn has been under house arrest.

As he arrived at the courthouse shortly before 9 a.m., witnesses said that protesters from a hotel housekeepers’ union yelled, “Shame on you!”

For the past few weeks, Mr. Strauss-Kahn has been staying a few blocks from the courthouse at 100 Centre Street in a multimillion-dollar luxury townhouse. He is under house arrest, wearing an electronic ankle monitoring bracelet, and can leave only under limited circumstances, such as to visit his lawyers or go to religious services.

Even from the 13th-floor courtroom, chanting could be heard from the demonstrators on the street.

When he entered the building, Mr. Strauss-Kahn was taken to a waiting area behind closed doors, where he stayed until the proceeding started.

About 9 a.m., the prosecutors on the case, Joan Illuzzi-Orbon and Artie McConnell, entered the courtroom, where about 100 members of the news media were already seated.

About five minutes later, one of Mr. Strauss-Kahn’s lawyers, William W. Taylor III, came in from the back, smiled and shook the prosecutors’ hands. They had had a brief conversation before Mr. Taylor returned to the back.

A short time after that, Mr. Thompson, the lawyer for the accuser, entered the courtroom and took a seat in the front row with two others.

At 9:15 a.m., Mr. Strauss-Kahn’s wife and his lawyers, including Mr. Brafman, entered the courtroom from a back room.

At 9:17, Mr. Strauss-Kahn entered the courtroom from a side door, expressionless with a dark suit and blue tie.

At 9:22, the judge handling the case, Michael J. Obus, took the bench to start the proceeding.

Mr. Strauss-Kahn’s next court date is July 18.

The arraignment of Mr. Strauss-Kahn, who many thought might be France’s next president, was covered live in special editions on many French television channels. The arraignment was live on the two main French channels, TF1 and France 2, on the domestic news cable channels and on France24, which broadcasts in French, English and Arabic.

“He pleaded not guilty,” Mr. Brafman said after the arraignment. “That is a very eloquent, powerful statement that he made that denies the charges.”

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Bail Granted to Ex-I.M.F. Chief in Assault Case

Mr. Strauss-Kahn’s lawyers filed a new application for his release in State Supreme Court on Wednesday night, reiterating their client’s earlier offer to put up $1 million cash bail and wear an ankle monitor. The new application also said that Mr. Strauss-Kahn would remain under 24-hour home confinement in the apartment recently rented by his wife, with an armed guard posted outside — presumably to ensure he stays inside. He also submitted a waiver of extradition, should the American authorities need to get him back from France.

The judge, Justice Michael J. Obus of State Supreme Court in Manhattan, agreed to those conditions, also requiring $5 million bond to be posted.

After setting Mr. Strauss-Kahn’s bail conditions, Justice Obus issued him a stern warning.

“Mr. Strauss-Kahn, I assume you’re going to be posting this in due course,” he said. “You will be subject to and you will have the benefit of the protection of the criminal court system, the criminal justice system of this state and this country. I expect you will be here.”

If there is the “slightest problem with your compliance,” Justice Obus added, he could change the conditions of the bail and could even withdraw it.

Before the judge gave his decision, prosecutors announced that a grand jury indicted Mr. Strauss-Kahn on charges related to the alleged sexual assault of a hotel housekeeper at the Sofitel New York.

The charges included several first-degree felony counts, including committing a criminal sex act, attempted rape and sexual abuse; the most serious charges carry 25-year prison terms.

Mr. Strauss-Kahn was placed in protective custody on Rikers Island after his arraignment on Monday; he has since been placed under suicide watch for precautionary reasons.

Mr. Strauss-Kahn was escorted into the courtroom at about 2:30 p.m., looking much better than he had in his previous court appearance. He wore a gray suit with a baby blue shirt and was clean-shaven. He gave a toothless grin and nod to his wife, Anne Sinclair, and daughter, Camille Strauss-Kahn, who were sitting in the front row.

Reporters started lining up outside the courtroom more than two hours before the start of the hearing. About 100 of them squeezed inside the courtroom, some even sitting in the jury box alongside sketch artists and photographers.

There was some rumbling around 2:15 when Ms. Sinclair, strode into the courtroom, clutching her daughter’s hand. Ms. Sinclair wore a gray dress with a dark blazer, and cocoa-colored, patent leather platform heels.

In a sign, perhaps, of the seriousness with which prosecutors are treating the case, Artie McConnell, the assistant district attorney assigned to the case, was accompanied by Daniel R. Alonso, the chief assistant district attorney, and Lisa Friel, the chief of the office’s sex crimes unit.

Mr. McConnell began by reiterating the prosecution’s objection to bail being set. As he had argued during the Criminal Court arraignment on Monday, Mr. McConnell said that the evidence against Mr. Strauss-Kahn was compelling and that he had the means to flee.

“He has the stature and the resources not to be a fugitive on the run,” Mr. McConnell said, but to “live a life of ease and comfort in parts of the world that are beyond” the jurisdiction of the court and the United States.

Even though Mr. Strauss-Kahn said he had lunch with a family member, Mr. McConnell said his exit from the hotel was “unusually hasty.”

The prosecutor added that Mr. Strauss-Kahn “has shown a propensity for impulsive criminal conduct.” Mr. Strauss-Kahn gently shook his head in response.

This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:

Correction: May 19, 2011

Due to an editing error, the Web summary in an earlier version of this article referred incorrectly to the timing of the indictment. It was handed up on Thursday, not Friday.

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