Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the managing director of the International Monetary Fund, was arrested over the weekend for sexually assaulting a maid at the New York hotel where he was staying. He was apprehended Saturday when police boarded a plane set to depart for France.
Strauss-Kahn was arrested Sunday:
“on charges of criminal sexual act, attempted rape, and an unlawful imprisonment in connection with a sexual assault on a 32-year-old chambermaid in the luxury suite of a Midtown Manhattan hotel yesterday” about 1 p.m., Deputy Commissioner Paul J. Browne, the department’s chief spokesman, said.
The report of the attack coming from the police is incredibly disturbing and triggering. According to the police, the maid entered Strauss-Kahn’s suite, when he emerged naked from the bathroom, grabbed the maid, locked her in the room, pulled her into the bedroom and sexually assaulted her. She broke free but he then dragged her down the hallway to the bathroom, sexually assaulting her a second time. The evidence, as reported by the police, also sounds overwhelming for a sexual assault: Strauss-Kahn left his phone behind when he fled the scene, the police found DNA evidence, and more evidence when he was examined.
I find the arrest surprising given the power dynamics at play. Strauss-Kahn led on the most powerful economic institutions in the world: the IMF oversees the global financial system and has played an active and public role in responding to the global economic crisis. John Lipsky has taken over running the IMF for the time being. Strauss-Kahn was also the expected frontrunner in the upcoming presidential election in France. Basically, he was one of the most powerful men in the world.
Strauss-Kahn was in the news in 2008 for an affair with a subordinate at the IMF. In 2007 a French writer brought up allegations she was sexually assaulted by Strauss-Kahn, though she tried to keep his identity hidden and did not press charges, reportedly because of her mother’s involvement in politics and an attempt to protect herself from the press. Since these new charges the writer, Tristane Banon, has said she will make a formal complaint.
As is seemingly standard when powerful men are charged with sexual assault, conspiracy theories are already popping up. Because of course a powerful man would never take advantage of his position, and women just love this sort of attention. Sadly, I think we all know how these stories play out in the press and popular conversation. Prove me wrong, everyone.
Strauss-Kahn is set to be arraigned today.