At this point, it seems unwise to write anything definitive about the rape charges against former IMF head Dominique Strauss-Kahn, because the circumstances surrounding the case are changing so quickly. Yesterday, it seemed as though new doubts about DSK’s accuser, a housekeeper in a Manhattan hotel, could derail the debate over French sexism that the charges initially sparked. Now, a French writer named Tristane Banon announced her plans to file a criminal complaint against DSK for attempted rape in 2002.
Banon came forward after the arrest in May, saying that during a 2002 interview, DSK said that he would only talk with her if she held his hand. Later in the interview, he allegedly wrestled her to the floor and tried to unhook her bra and unbutton her jeans. Banon’s lawyer, David Koubbi, said that she was dissuaded at the time from filing charges by her mother, Anne Mansouret, who was a politician in DSK’s Socialist party. He added that DSK’s actions were not sexual assault, but “attempted rape.”
Mansouret says now that she was “revolted” by the reactions of the many men who sprang to DSK’s defense after New York prosecutors raised doubts about his accuser. And even if the charges in New York are dropped, these new accusations could end the debate about whether DSK could revive his political career.
Even before Banon’s complaint went public, the French Socialist Party said that DSK was unlikely to run for president of France, despite the polls that suggest that he might be a serious contender. Banon’s allegations are also an important reminder that even if there are doubts about the New York case, DSK seems to have a pattern of sexual harassment, assault and abuse. Banon was only 22 when DSK attempted to attack her, and to make matters worse, she is the god-daughter of DSK’s second wife. If DSK was willing to assault a young woman with whom he had so many personal ties, it seems entirely believable that he would do the same for a housekeeper in his hotel – or any number of women who have not come forward.
And while we’re talking about the credibility of DSK’s accuser, let’s just remember that DSK is not the most plausible victim.
Photo from Wikimedia Commons.