Dominique Strauss-Kahn: medical examination delays court appearance

Dominique Strauss-Kahn to appear in New York court over alleged sex
on hotel maid Photo: AFP/GETTY
The head of the International Monetary Fund, who is alleged to have sexually attacked a Manhattan hotel maid, has delayed appearing in court after agreeing to a medical examination.

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the IMF's 62-year-old managing director, was due to face a judge at New York City criminal court accused of an unlawful sexual act, attempted rape and unlawful imprisonment.

But late last night, after police, court officials and reporters had waited eight hours for him to appear, Mr Strauss-Kahn's legal team announced that he would be undergoing further tests before being formally charged.

Mr Strauss-Kahn was arrested in the early hours of Sunday morning.

The prominent French socialist, who was expected to challenge Nicolas Sarkozy's presidency next year, allegedly assaulted a 32-year-old maid who had arrived to clean his £1,855-a-night suite at the luxury Sofitel near Times Square, at 1pm on Saturday.

His lawyer, Benjamin Brafman, said he would "plead not guilty" while his wife, Anne Sinclair, a French television journalist, said: "His innocence will be established".

After allegedly fleeing to New York's John F Kennedy airport, leaving his mobile phone and other belongings, he was dramatically captured onboard an Air France flight to Paris that was parked on the tarmac and 10 minutes from take-off.

The maid alleged "he came out of the bathroom naked, ran down a hallway to ... where she was, pulled her into a bedroom and began to sexually assault her," said Paul Browne, a New York Police Department spokesman.

"She pulled away from him and he dragged her down a hallway into the bathroom, where he engaged in a criminal sexual act, according to her account to detectives. He tried to lock her in the hotel room."

Mr Strauss-Kahn then left. "It looked like he got out of there in a hurry," said Mr Browne.

Officers responded to a 911 call from a colleague of the maid, who was treated in hospital for "minor injuries." "We learned quickly he had boarded a flight for Paris," said Mr Browne.

Plainclothes detectives boarded the plane at about 4.40pm and apprehended Mr Strauss-Kahn in First Class.

He reportedly asked: "What is this about?" before complying, and was not handcuffed. "If we had been 10 minutes later he would have been in the air on his way to Paris," said Mr Browne.

Mr Strauss-Kahn was questioned by the NYPD Special Victims Unit before being formally arrested and charged. He was due to be arraigned at Manhattan's central criminal court on Sunday night, but the hearing was delayed.

William Taylor, a lawyer for Mr Strauss-Kahn, said outside the court: "Our client willingly consented to a scientific examination tonight, at the request of the government.

"Because of the early hour, we've agreed to postpone the arraignment until tomorrow morning."

Asked how his client was, Mr Taylor said: "He's tired". Mr Strauss-Kahn was later taken from the Harlem police station in handcuffs. The arraignment is not expected until 11am (4pm BST).

Mr Strauss-Kahn was identified by the alleged victim in a line up, police said on Sunday night. The maid had been working at the hotel for three years and was described as a “completely satisfactory” employee.

IMF officials enjoy diplomatic immunity for acts carried out "in their official capacity" but this does not apply to Mr Strauss-Kahn in this case, said Mr Browne.

John Sheehan, director of safety and security at the Sofitel, which boasts "luxury with a French flair", said: "We are working very closely with the NYPD on their investigation." Mr Strauss-Kahn, a former economics professor, lawyer and finance minister, has since 2007 been the managing director of the Washington-based IMF, which loans money to countries in economic crisis.

He stood for the Socialist party's 2007 presidential candidacy but was defeated by Segolene Royal, who went on to lose the general election to Mr Sarkozy.

He was expected to seek his party's nomination for the 2012 presidential election but complained Mr Sarkozy had begun a "smear campaign" against him.

Martine Aubry, the Socialist leader, described the news as a "thunderbolt" that left her "astounded".

Mr Strauss-Kahn had been due to meet Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, for talks yesterday.

Labelled "The Great Seducer" by the French media, Mr Strauss-Kahn has been criticised for his behaviour towards women.

Tristane Banon, a French writer, claimed she fended him off with kicks and punches during an alleged encounter, while an anonymous author last year claimed: "He has trouble controlling himself."

In 2008 he admitted to an affair with Piroska Nagy, a senior IMF official.

Afterwards he said he had made an "error of judgment".

By Jon Swaine, New York
The Telegraph