Leaks trigger clampdown in Strauss-Kahn sex crime case
NEW YORK (AFP) – New York police and prosecutors Tuesday imposed a news blackout amid a series of leaks over the evidence collected in the sex scandal surrounding fallen IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn.
Police Tuesday denied being the source of reports Monday that traces of Strauss-Kahn’s semen had been found on the clothes of a chambermaid who has accused him of trying to rape her in his luxury hotel suite.
Investigators had so far given “no result and no information” about the DNA test results, a police spokesman said, refusing to give any further details.
Strauss-Kahn, 62, faces charges of attempting to rape and sexually assault a 32-year-old Guinean chambermaid at the luxury Sofitel hotel in New York on May 14.
He is under house arrest, wearing an electronic ankle bracelet, and is staying in a secure apartment in the Empire Building at 71 Broadway, under armed guard and 24-hour video surveillance pending his next hearing.
The scandal forced him to resign as head of the International Monetary Fund and torpedoed his chances of standing in the 2012 French presidential election.
He denies all the charges, and his attorneys have suggested in court proceedings that he might have had consensual sex with the woman.
Two US television channels, NBC and ABC, quoting sources close to the investigation said Monday that traces of his DNA had been found on the maid’s clothes, and results of the DNA tests had been sent to the French authorities.
A French television channel said investigators had found traces of semen had been found on the collar of her shirt.
Fox news also said that authorities had matched a DNA sample taken from Strauss-Kahn with what was said to be semen on the shirt.
Quoting law enforcement sources close to the investigation, Fox said that in a detailed account of the alleged attack the maid said she had repeatedly cried “Please, please stop. No.”
Strauss-Kahn allegedly asked her “don’t you know who I am,” according to the complaint she made to the police, Fox said.
Amid the global media storm around the case, prosecutors were clamping down on information, with a spokeswoman Monday stressing authorities would release “nothing until the trial” related to the DNA results.
Meanwhile, Strauss-Kahn, and his wife, former top French television journalist Anne Sinclair, must hunt for new accommodation.
The search is proving difficult after at least one luxury residence rejected Strauss-Kahn as a resident because of his newfound notoriety.
The next hearing in the case is set for June 6, when Strauss-Kahn could plead to the charges laid against him.
Lawyer Benjamin Brafman, who visited the ex-IMF chief on Monday, said his client will plead not guilty and that he is confident Strauss-Kahn will be exonerated. But if convicted the former IMF chief could face long prison terms.
Strauss-Kahn has told his former staff he is confronting a “personal nightmare.” In an email message sent to IMF staff Sunday, he expressed “profound sadness” at the way he left his $450,000-a-year tax-free post.
“I deny in the strongest possible terms the allegations which I now face; I am confident that the truth will come out and I will be exonerated,” he wrote.
“In the meantime, I cannot accept that the Fund — and you dear colleagues – should in any way have to share my own personal nightmare. So, I had to go.”
French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde has emerged as the frontrunner to replace Strauss-Kahn, but she has yet to be officially proposed since IMF nominations opened Monday.
A European traditionally holds the managing director job, something that several emerging-market powers hope to change.
Mexico on Monday presented their Central Bank governor, Agustin Carstens, as their candidate. Carstens has had lengthy experience at the IMF, including as deputy managing director, the body’s third-ranked official, from 2003 to 2006.