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Dominique Strauss-Kahn acknowledges 'moral fault'

The ex-IMF chief accused of sexual assault by a hotel maid says that his actions were an affront to his family and friends but that he engaged in no 'aggression' that would have warranted his arrest.

September 18, 2011|By Kim Willsher, Los Angeles Times
  • Former International Monetary Fund chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn answers questions during a TV interview.
Former International Monetary Fund chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn answers… (Francois Guillot, AFP/Getty…)

Reporting from Paris — Onetime French presidential hopeful Dominique Strauss-Kahn on Sunday acknowledged "moral fault" in a sexual encounter with a New York hotel chambermaid, but insisted that he engaged in no "aggression or constraint" that should have resulted in his arrest.

Speaking in a prime-time television interview, Strauss-Kahn, 62, gave his first public explanation of the events that led to his jailing on sexual assault charges, which were later dropped after prosecutors began doubting the maid's credibility.

Strauss-Kahn, who stepped down as head of the International Monetary Fund in the midst of the scandal, declared Sunday that the maid, a native of Guinea, West Africa, had "lied about everything." But the Socialist Party veteran acknowledged moral wrongdoing in his encounter with the 32-year-old woman, who had arrived to clean his room and told police later he had forced her to perform oral sex.

Photos: Charges dismissed in rape case

"What happened was not just inappropriate, it was more than that, it was a fault; a fault toward my wife, my children, my friends but also a fault toward the French people who placed in me their hope for change.

"It was a moral fault of which I am not proud. I regret it infinitely. I have regretted it every day for the last four months; I don't believe I have finished regretting it."

Before the interview, maid Nafissatou Diallo's New York lawyers, who have filed a civil suit, issued a statement, saying, "If Mr. Strauss-Kahn thinks that people in France will really believe that he was able to convince Ms. Diallo, who had never met him before and did not know that he was in the room, to engage in sexual acts with him within a matter of minutes, then he should describe how that happened."

Strauss-Kahn criticized the American justice system, saying it had made him "very, very afraid."

"When you are in a crunching machine like that, you have the impression it is crushing you to death. I felt ground under its heel, humiliated. I have suffered a violent experience," he said.

He described a second allegation of attempted rape made by 32-year-old French writer Tristane Banon as "imaginary and slanderous," and said he was taking legal action against her.

While ruling out a presidential run, he refused to rule out a return to politics. "We will see," he said.

A survey published Sunday said 53% of French people quizzed wanted Strauss-Kahn to retire from politics, and 22% wanted him to run for president.

Photos: Charges dismissed in rape case

Willsher is a special correspondent.

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