Maid picks IMF chief in lineup | Inquirer News

Maid picks IMF chief in lineup

/ 06:45 AM May 17, 2011

NEW YORK—In a police lineup consisting of six men, a chambermaid on Sunday tagged Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the leader of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), as the man who sexually assaulted her in a $3,000-a-night suite of a Manhattan hotel the previous day.

After identifying Strauss-Kahn about 4:30 p.m., the 32-year-old maid at the Sofitel New York hotel on West 44th Street, where Strauss-Kahn was a guest, left the Special Victims Unit in a police van. A blanket covered her head.

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“The victim picked him out of a lineup a little while ago,” a police official told a gaggle of reporters, photographers and camera crews from local and foreign news organizations.

Strauss-Kahn, 62, spent most of Sunday at the Special Victims Unit in East Harlem as prosecutors sought additional evidence, including possible DNA evidence on his skin or beneath his fingernails, to bolster allegations that he had sexually assaulted the chambermaid.

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Shortly before 11 p.m., the IMF director general wearing a black jacket and looking haggard was taken from the Special Victims Unit in handcuffs.

About an hour earlier, his lawyers, William Taylor and Benjamin Brafman, emerged from Manhattan Criminal Court in Lower Manhattan and announced that Strauss-Kahn had agreed to “a scientific forensic examination tonight.”

‘Tired but fine’

Taylor, who described his client as “tired but fine,” provided no other details but said that Strauss-Kahn’s arraignment would not take place until Monday, nearly 48 hours after he was taken off an Air France plane at Kennedy International Airport just as it was to take off for Paris on Saturday afternoon.

The long wait for Strauss-Kahn’s arraignment unfolded as an international corps of journalists was deployed both in East Harlem and at Manhattan Criminal Court.

The authorities said they had moved to obtain a court order granting them a search warrant to examine Strauss-Kahn for signs of injury that he might have suffered during a struggle or for traces of his accuser’s DNA.

“Things like getting things from under the fingernails,” a law enforcement official explained, “the classic things you get in association with a sex assault.”

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The official, who insisted on anonymity because the investigation was continuing, added that since the authorities believed there was a high likelihood that Strauss-Kahn would be allowed to post bail, investigators feared that he might leave the country with whatever clues his person might yield.

Missing cell phone

New details have emerged on how Strauss-Kahn came to be taken into custody.

The police were called to the hotel about 1:30 p.m. on Saturday, but when they arrived, Strauss-Kahn had checked out. At some point, Strauss-Kahn called the hotel and said that his cell phone was missing.

Police detectives then coached hotel employees to tell him, falsely, that they had the telephone, according to the law enforcement official. Strauss-Kahn said he was at Kennedy International Airport and about to get on a plane.

The police have provided little information about the woman at the center of the case beyond saying she was 32 and an African immigrant.

According to the law enforcement official, the chambermaid entered Strauss-Kahn’s suite early Saturday afternoon by saying “housekeeping.”

She heard no answer and believed that the suite was unoccupied. She left the door open behind her, as is hotel policy.

She went to the bedroom and a naked man rushed from the bathroom to the bedroom. She apologized, the law enforcement official said, and tried to leave.

But according to the official, the man chased her, grabbed her and shut the door, locking it. He then pulled her toward the bedroom, the official said, and tried to attack her there.

He dragged her to the bathroom, the official added, and forced her to perform oral sex. The police said the woman eventually escaped from the suite and reported the attack to other hotel personnel, who called 911.

Bronx resident

The woman lives in the Bronx with a daughter who is in her teens. The building’s superintendent said she moved in a few months ago.

“They’re good people,” said one neighbor, another African immigrant. “Every time I see her I’m happy because we’re both from Africa. She’s never given a problem for nobody. Never noisy. Everything nice.”

At the Sofitel New York hotel, a maid, who refused to give her name, described the woman as friendly. “In the world, she is a good person,” she said.

The maid added that her superiors had asked other hotel employees not to question the woman about what happened.

“The office said, ‘Don’t ask too much because she is sad,”’ the maid said. “Just give her a hug when she comes back.”

A guest at the hotel, Mortem Meier, 36, a sales director visiting from Norway, said the livery driver who drove Strauss-Kahn to Kennedy Internationl Airport was also his driver on Saturday night.

“He said Strauss-Kahn was in a huge hurry,” Meier recalled. “He wanted to leave as soon as possible. He looked upset and stressed, the driver said.”

Journalists arrive

At Manhattan Criminal Court on Sunday, crowds of reporters kept watch throughout the day for Strauss-Kahn’s arraignment, sitting through dozens of more prosaic cases involving offenses like subway fare jumping, marijuana possession and, in one instance, charges of possession of a stun gun.

Journalists began arriving at the courthouse in the morning and their numbers increased as the day went on.

By the time the night court session broke for dinner at 9, more than 60 reporters—many working for French newspapers, television stations and wire agencies—had assembled and were taking up most of the space on the long wooden benches that lined the rear of the courtroom.

Ira Judelson, a bail bondsman involved in the case, said earlier in the day that a comprehensive bail package would establish specifics of where Strauss-Kahn would stay as the case proceeded.

He added that the bail amount could be in the millions of dollars.

Brafman, a prominent New York criminal lawyer, has represented the hip-hop impresario Sean Combs, the Manhattan jeweler Jacob Arabov and the New York Giants wide receiver Plaxico Burress. New York Times News Service

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