In a bizarre coincidence, a second high-profile banker has been arrested in New York for allegedly sexually assaulting a hotel maid. This time, it's Mahmoud Abdel Salam Omar, once the chairman of Egypt's Bank of Alexandria.
According to the Guardian, Omar, who's now an executive at salt production company El-Mex Salines, was staying at the Pierre Hotel on Sunday night, when he called for a miad to bring him tissues. When she got there, says ABC, he allegedly locked her in his room, "grabbed her, kissed her, and fondled her breasts and buttocks." She resisted repeatedly, and he only let her leave when she gave him her phone number — a fake one, as it turned out. She tried to report the incident right away, but — somewhat oddly — staff at the hotel told her she would have to wait and tell her direct supervisor, who wasn't around until Monday. Once she was able to report the assault, police arrested Omar, and he's expected to be arraigned today.
This is eerily reminiscent, obviously, of Dominique Strauss-Kahn's alleged assault of a maid at New York's Sofitel. If the allegations in each case are true, they seem to support the idea that sexual assault is an ongoing occupational hazard for hotel maids. It's also possible that the accuser in the Pierre case was more likely to come forward because she knew about DSK, much like the women who accused French official Georges Tron of assaulting them. Sadly, the way DSK's accuser has been treated in both French and American media might well also induce others to keep silent. We won't know the full story of Omar's alleged assault until he's tried. But one thing seems clear: Ben Stein's claim that "people who commit crimes tend to be criminals" — and not, say, bankers or economists or French members of parliament — is looking more ridiculous every day.