NEW YORK — Prosecutors have said their evidence against the former International Monetary Fund leader charged with sexually assaulting a Manhattan hotel maid was growing by the day. Defense lawyers, meanwhile, have said they had information that would seriously hurt her credibility.
Both sides have been mum about exactly what they mean, and it’s unclear whether either will shed more light on the case as Dominique Strauss-Kahn goes to court Monday to answer the charges. The French economist and diplomat, who has said he’s innocent, is expected to enter a formal not guilty plea.
It will be Strauss-Kahn’s first court appearance since he was released on a total of $6 million in cash bail and bond last month after nearly a week behind bars. He has since been under house arrest and armed guard, first in a Manhattan apartment and now in a deluxe town house that rents for $50,000 a month.
The case has been intensely followed around the world, spawning news reports even about food deliveries to his home. His arrest rocked politics in France, where Strauss-Kahn had been considered a potential contender in next year’s presidential elections, and shook up the IMF. He resigned his post at the powerful lending body after his arrest, and the powerful lending organization has yet to name his replacement.
The 32-year-old maid told police Strauss-Kahn chased her down in his Sofitel hotel suite May 14, tried to pull down her pantyhose and forced her to perform oral sex.
“The proof against him is substantial. It is continuing to grow every day,” Manhattan assistant district attorney John “Artie” McConnell said in court May 19.
Days later, tests found Strauss-Kahn’s DNA matched material on the woman’s uniform shirt, according to people familiar with the investigation.
But Strauss-Kahn lawyer Benjamin Brafman told a judge May 16 that the defense believed any forensic evidence “will not be consistent with a forcible encounter” – a remark that could signal his lawyers are planning to argue the episode was consensual. They have declined to comment on their plans.
And in a letter to prosecutors last month, Brafman and fellow Strauss-Kahn lawyer William W. Taylor said they had – but wouldn’t yet release – information that “would seriously undermine the quality of this prosecution and also gravely undermine the credibility of the complainant in this case.”
Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly has said investigators found her credible. And one of her lawyers, Jeffrey Shapiro, has said there is “no way that any aspect of this event could be construed consensual.”
A trial in the case is likely months away, if not longer. If convicted of the most serious charge, Strauss-Kahn could face at least five and up to 25 years in prison.