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Jailed IMF chief resigns but maintains his innocence

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, who is facing sexual assault charges in New York, says he is stepping down with 'infinite sadness' and that he wants to devote 'all my energy to proving my innocence.'

May 18, 2011|By Kim Willsher, Los Angeles Times
  • Dominique Strauss-Kahn, in a letter announcing his intention to resign, wrote, I want to say that I deny with the greatest possible firmness all of the allegations that have been made against me."
Dominique Strauss-Kahn, in a letter announcing his intention to resign,… (Richard Drew, Associated…)

Reporting from Paris — The head of the International Monetary Fund, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, resigned from his post late Wednesday from a jail cell in New York, where he is facing sexual assault charges.

In a letter made public by the IMF, Strauss-Kahn wrote of the reasons he was standing down with "infinite sadness," but he also forcefully maintained his innocence.

"I think at this time first of my wife — whom I love more than anything — of my children, of my family, of my friends," he wrote. "I think also of my colleagues at the Fund; together we have accomplished such great things over the last three years and more.

"To all, I want to say that I deny with the greatest possible firmness all of the allegations that have been made against me.

"I want to protect this institution which I have served with honor and devotion, and especially — especially — I want to devote all my strength, all my time, and all my energy to proving my innocence."

Strauss-Kahn, whom many regarded as likely to become the next president of France after elections next year, is being held at Rikers Island jail, accused of sexually attacking a maid in a Manhattan hotel suite.

His troubles began about 4:30 p.m. Saturday, when officers took him from the first-class cabin of an Air France flight bound for Paris for questioning in connection with an alleged sexual assault in the Sofitel hotel.

The maid told police that she entered Strauss-Kahn's suite to clean it, thinking it was empty, according to Paul J. Browne, deputy New York City police commissioner. The maid told officers that Strauss-Kahn came out of the bathroom naked, pushed her onto the bed and assaulted her. She said he forced her to perform oral sex.

On Sunday, a police source said Strauss-Kahn's accuser picked him out of a lineup. Then on Wednesday, police removed a piece of carpet from the Sofitel suite to test it for semen, the Associated Press reported.

Local news reports said the woman is a 32-year-old single mother from West Africa. DNA samples have been taken from the maid and Strauss-Kahn.

The allegations caused dismay and disbelief among his friends and colleagues in France. Strauss-Kahn, 62, is charged with criminal sexual acts, attempted rape, sexual abuse, unlawful imprisonment and forcible touching. The most serious charge carries a maximum sentence of 25 years in prison.

He is expected to appear in a New York court Thursday afternoon to request bail. Strauss-Kahn's defense team will argue that he is a "loving husband and father, and a highly regarded diplomat, politician, lawyer, economist and professor, with no criminal record," according to court papers filed on Wednesday.

He has offered a $1-million bail bond and agreed to be confined to a house in Manhattan owned by his daughter, Camille, 24, and be subject to 24-hour electronic surveillance to allay fears he might flee the country.

The court denied him bail during an arraignment hearing on Monday because he was considered a flight risk.

A grand jury is due to inform a judge at Manhattan criminal court on Friday whether there is sufficient evidence to prosecute Strauss-Kahn.

His wife, television journalist Anne Sinclair, 62, whom he married in 1991, has flown to New York to support her husband.

Strauss-Kahn's economic record as managing director of the IMF has been widely praised, although his reputation took a hit in 2008, one year after he took up the post, when he admitted having an affair with a junior colleague. He was forced to apologize for an "error of judgment." Afterward, Sinclair, his third wife, vowed to stand by him.

Strauss-Kahn's deputy, John Lipsky, who had announced his intention to leave the IMF before the scandal broke, has been appointed acting managing director, the IMF said in a statement.

Willsher is a special correspondent. Times staff writers contributed to this report. For earlier coverage, see Page A12.

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