Chief of D.C.-Based IMF Faces Sex Assault Charges

Old accusations also come to light against Strauss-Kahn

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    NEWSLETTERS

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    IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn is placed in the backseat of a police vehicle outside of a New York City Police Department facility on W 123rd St. May 15, 2011 in New York City.

    The head of the Washington, D.C.-based International Monetary Fund was examined for evidence that could incriminate him in the alleged sexual assault of a hotel maid in New York City.

    Dominique Strauss-Kahn, a married father of four whose reputation with women earned him the nickname "the great seducer," appeared before a judge in Manhattan Monday on charges of attempted rape and criminal sexual contact in the alleged attack on a maid who went into his penthouse suite at a hotel near Times Square to clean it.

    The 32-year-old maid told authorities that when she entered his spacious, $3,000-a-night suite early Saturday afternoon, she thought it was unoccupied. Instead, Strauss-Kahn came out of the bathroom naked, chased her down a hallway and pulled her into a bedroom, where he sexually assaulted her, New York Police Department spokesman Paul J. Browne said.

    The woman told police she fought him off, but then he dragged her into the bathroom, where he forced her to perform oral sex on him and tried to remove her underwear. The woman was able to break free again, escaped the room and told hotel staff what had happened, authorities said.

    Strauss-Kahn, who owns a "two-story, red brick mansion in Washington, D.C.'s posh Georgetown neighborhood," according to the New York Daily News, was alone when he checked into the luxury Sofitel hotel, not far from Times Square, on Friday afternoon, police said. It wasn't clear why he was in New York. The IMF is based in Washington, and he had been due in Germany on Sunday to meet with Chancellor Angela Merkel.

    Strauss-Kahn was gone by the time detectives arrived moments later, and he left his cellphone behind, authorities said. "It looked like he got out of there in a hurry," Browne said.

    Strauss-Kahn, 62, was nabbed less than four hours after the alleged assault, plucked from first class on a Paris-bound Air France flight that was just about to leave the gate at John F. Kennedy International Airport.

    Strauss-Kahn was taken into custody on Saturday and spent more than 24 hours inside a Harlem precinct, where police say the maid identified him from a lineup, then headed to a hospital for a "forensic examination" requested by prosecutors to obtain more evidence in the case, defense lawyer William Taylor said. He was taken to a Manhattan court early Monday. A judge ordered him held at least until his next court hearing.

    Strauss-Kahn was arrested on charges of a criminal sex act, attempted rape and unlawful imprisonment. Authorities were looking for any forensic evidence and DNA.

    Another defense attorney, Benjamin Brafman, said the IMF managing director "intends to vigorously defends these charges and he denies any wrongdoing."

    His wife, Anne Sinclair, defended him in a statement to French news agency AFP.

    "I do not believe for one second the accusations brought against my husband. I have no doubt his innocence will be established," said Sinclair, a New York-born journalist who hosted a popular weekly TV news broadcast in France in the 1980s and '90s.

    A member of France's Socialist party, Strauss-Kahn was widely considered the strongest potential challenger next year to President Nicolas Sarkozy, whose political fortunes have been flagging.

    Media in France have dubbed Strauss-Khan "the great seducer." His reputation as a charmer of women has not hurt his career in France, where politicians' private lives traditionally come under less scrutiny than in the United States.

    In 2008, Strauss-Kahn was briefly investigated over whether he had an improper relationship with a subordinate female employee. He apologized for that relationship.

    On top of the sexual assault charges come as another woman is also coming forward with accusations.  The lawyer for a woman who says she was sexually assaulted by Strauss-Kahn nine years ago says she wants to file a legal complaint.

    Lawyer David Koubbi says Tristane Banon did not file suit earlier due to "pressures" she face over the alleged 2002 sexual assault by Strauss-Kahn and was dissuaded by her own mother, a regional Socialist official.  Koubbi told RTL radio Monday he is likely to file suit for Banon now because "she knows she'll be heard and she knows she'll be taken seriously."

    The IMF, based here in Washington, D.C., plays a key role in controlling Europe's debt crisis.  It named an acting chief and said it remains fully functional despite the arrest.

    (NBC News and NBCNewYork.com contributed to this report.)