NEW YORK — Former IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn was released from jail Friday and will be held under house arrest near ground zero after the luxury apartment where he had arranged to stay fell through because the neighbors objected to the media frenzy.
Prosecutors said he will be temporarily housed in a building on a small street in lower Manhattan within the Police Department’s “Ring of Steel” – a network of private and police cameras near where the World Trade Center stood.
While he is there, his family and lawyers will look for a more permanent place for him to await trial on charges he tried to rape a hotel maid.
The original plan was for Strauss-Kahn to move into a luxury residential hotel under armed guard on Manhattan’s well-to-do Upper East Side. Even though the address was never officially released, police and reporters soon converged on the building, the Bristol Plaza.
“Last night there was an effort by the media to invade the building,” Strauss-Kahn attorney William Taylor said. “That is why the tenants in the building will not accept his living there.” While Strauss-Kahn’s family had a lease and could have stayed, he decided to leave “out of respect for the residents.”
Late in the day, after the snag over where the banker would serve his house arrest had been resolved, Strauss-Kahn was released from the city’s Rikers Island jail on $1 million cash bail. The 62-year-old former managing director of the powerful International Monetary Fund had been behind bars since last Saturday.
During his time in temporary housing in lower Manhattan, at least one armed guard will be watching him at all times, and he will have to wear an ankle bracelet. His apartment’s exterior doors will be outfitted with alarms and video cameras, on orders from the judge who granted bail.
“This is intended to be temporary, meaning a few days, and in the meantime, efforts would be made to arrange for another suitable residence,” state Supreme Court Justice Michael Obus said.
Prosecutors had argued against Strauss-Kahn’s release, warning he might use his wealth and international connections to flee to France and thwart efforts to extradite him, like the filmmaker Roman Polanski.
Strauss-Kahn cannot leave his temporary housing at all. Once he is settled somewhere permanent, he will be allowed to leave only for court dates, meetings with his lawyers, doctor’s appointments and weekly religious services, and he will have to give prosecutors at last six hours’ notice. No trial date has been set.
He is accused of attacking a 32-year-old housekeeper in his $3,000-a-night hotel suite. The West African immigrant told police he emerged naked from the bathroom, chased her down and forced her to perform oral sex. He has denied the allegations.
Tenants of Bristol Plaza – featuring furnished apartments with Italian marble bathrooms, flat-screen televisions, king-size beds with goose down pillows – were upset at the prospect of a media feeding frenzy outside their door. The wealthy neighborhood attracts a crush of dignitaries from the United Nations, and Bernard Madoff lived close by.
“I didn’t want him here,” said Dolores Gonzalez, who was afraid the spectacle would tarnish the building’s dignified reputation.
Her neighbor Charles Katz agreed: “It’s going to be very crowded, noisy, attracting the press and other people.”