IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn was examined yesterday for physical evidence that he sexually assaulted a Manhattan hotel maid. And now, another woman has come forward to accuse him of assault.
According to the Times, detectives from Manhattan's Special Victims Unit searched Strauss-Kahn for signs of a struggle — in one official's words, "things like getting things from under the fingernails, the classic things you get in association with a sex assault." The alleged victim, who has not been named, also picked him out of a lineup. Now, back in France, another woman is filing a complaint alleging that Strauss-Kahn assaulted her in 2002. According to to the AFP, writer Tristiane Banon actually went public with her allegations in a 2007 TV segment, but Strauss-Kahn's name was bleeped out. She said that during an interview, a politician had asked to hold her hand, then tried to rape her. Banon elaborated,
It finished very violently — as I told him clearly "No, No!" — and we finished up fighting on the floor. There wasn't just a couple of blows. I kicked him, and he tried to unclip my bra, to open my jeans.
Banon has confirmed her alleged attacker was Strauss-Kahn, and is now working with a lawyer to file an official complaint. Her mother, Socialist politician Anne Mansouret, has also spoken publicly. She says,
Back in 2002, Socialist friends thought that Tristane should make a complaint, but I persuaded her not to. I didn't want her to be 'the girl who ...'. She was just starting out in journalism.
She now regrets that: "Today I am sorry to have discouraged my daughter from complaining. I bear a heavy responsibility." Strauss-Kahn hasn't been convicted of either assault, and it's not clear what effect Banon's allegations would have had on his career if she'd come forward in 2002. We obviously can't say for sure that this would have prevented Strauss-Kahn's alleged attack on the maid. One thing we can say, though, is that women are all too frequently discouraged from reporting their assaults for fear of being "the girl who…" And this attitude helps rapists, especially powerful ones, continue to operate with impunity.
Police Seek Evidence From I.M.F. Chief On Sex Attack [NYT]
French Writer To Lay Sex Assault Charge Against IMF's Strauss-Kahn [AFP via Deccan Chronicle]
Dominique Strauss-Kahn Faces Further Claim Of Sexual Assault [Guardian]