2 février 2023

“DSK wanted sex in exchange for interview”

 

Martina, a reporter for a continental newspaper in her early 30s, spoke to The Times as a fuller portrait emerged in France of the sexually aggressive nature of the 62-year-old star of the French Socialist Party, who has been charged with the attempted rape of a chambermaid in a New York hotel suite.

The case against him appeared to darken yesterday with accounts of the distress of his alleged victim.

Martina, not her real name, said that Mr Strauss-Kahn took a fancy to her after a group interview.

"He got my phone number from his embassy or the Institut Francais and started calling me, saying, 'If you go out with me, you can have your own interview'," she said.

Mr Strauss-Kahn returned to the chase two years later, last November, when Martina was expecting a baby.

He turned up in her city and said that she could have an interview "but I had to go and spend the weekend with him in Paris or somewhere", she said.

"He was incredibly insistent … He made it almost explicit that I had to sleep with him for the interview."

Martina's brush with the pleasure-loving former Finance Minister was not untypical, journalists and colleagues said yesterday.

They depicted him applying pressure to the point of intimidation, but none came close to witnessing the kind of assault described by New York prosecutors, or by Tristane Banon, a journalist who this week renewed her claims, first made in 2007, that Mr Strauss-Kahn had tried to rape her.

One former ministerial colleague who enjoyed a close relationship with "DSK" said that while his compulsion to seduce was well known, she could not imagine him using violence.

"He is very attractive to the opposite sex," she said.

"I have trouble imagining him jumping on a chambermaid. It would have taken him only 15 minutes to call a girl to his room if he wanted one."

However, she acknowledged that the New York prosecutors appeared to have some supporting evidence and she wondered whether he might have crossed the line.

The brother of the alleged victim in New York added weight to the impression yesterday.

"She rang me and she said, 'Somebody has done something really bad to me. I've been attacked'," said the man, a 43-year-old restaurant manager from Harlem.

"She was crying all the time."

His sister, identified by the French press as Ophelia, was a "wonderful, hard-working woman".

Her brother added: "This is America – he won't get away with it."

Defence lawyers representing Mr Strauss-Kahn have indicated that the hotel chambermaid at the centre of the sex allegations consented to the IMF boss's advances.

During a bail hearing, Benjamin Brafman told the Manhattan Criminal Court: "The evidence, we believe, will not be consistent with a forcible encounter."

Mr Strauss-Kahn's well-known propensity for "coming on hard" to women was addressed recently by Thierry Ardisson, a talk show host.

He is quoted in a new biography of Mr Strauss-Kahn as saying: "Everyone knew about it. I have 14 women pals who have told me, 'He tried to jump me'."

A similar portrait of libertine excess emerged from a book, published last year by "Cassandre", an anonymous author who claimed to be a member of Mr Strauss-Kahn's team.

She wrote about an alleged fling that he had with a chambermaid in Mexico.

Mr Strauss-Kahn has also been linked with high-powered literary women, including Yasmina Reza, a playwright who wrote an account of President Sarkozy's 2007 campaign, and with Carmen Llera, a Spanish writer who appeared to allude to a past liaison with him in two books.

France long tolerated Mr Strauss-Kahn's Don Juan image, paying little attention to his rumoured visits to Les Chandelles, the most chic of Paris's nightclubs for echangistes, or "swingers".

Mr Sarkozy and his team have often hinted that they had material on Mr Strauss-Kahn's alleged escapades that would sink him in the presidential campaign that he was about to launch next month.

Mr Sarkozy made this clear at a conversation attended by The Times in October.

The President was said to have advised Mr Strauss-Kahn about his behaviour with women when he sent him to Washington as head of the IMF in 2007.

"Over there they don't joke about this sort of thing. Your life will be passed under a magnifying glass. Avoid taking the lift alone with interns. France cannot permit a scandal," he was quoted as saying.

On hearing of Mr Strauss-Kahn's arrest, according to aides Mr Sarkozy rolled his eyes and said: "We did warn him."

The Elysee Palace was surprised that Mr Strauss-Kahn had failed to learn from his early brush with disaster in Washington.

He escaped in 2008 with only mild criticism from an IMF investigation into his one-night stand with Piroska Nagy, a Hungarian subordinate.

However, a source close to Ms Nagy told The Times that it was "absolutely accurate" that she had been coerced into sex with Mr Strauss-Kahn.

Yet, as Anne Sinclair, Mr Strauss-Kahn's devoted wife and a television personality, comforted him in New York yesterday, he was defended in Paris by some women.

Charlotte Rotman, a prominent journalist, said that he had behaved like a gentleman throughout a recent interview.

"There were no gestures or words that were out of place," she told The Times.

Nathalie Raulin, who interviewed him during his time as Finance Minister in the late 1990s, said that he had never gone beyond la drague classique – the standard pick-up attempt – to charm women.

The Times

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