The case against Dominique Strauss-Kahn just gets more and more disturbing. Last month, after it seemed as though the allegations that the former IMF head had sexually assaulted a housekeeper in his Manhattan hotel were about to crumble, a French writer named Tristane Banon filed a lawsuit against Strauss-Kahn for attempted assault in 2003. Banon says that she was interviewing Strauss-Kahn when he wrestled her to the ground and tried to unhook her bra and jeans. She did not file a complaint at the time, but said that the coverage of the new case brought traumatic memories to the surface.
Now, in an even stranger turn of events, Banon’s mother, Anne Mansouret, is claiming that she had a consensual sexual encounter with Strauss-Kahn three years before he allegedly tried to rape her daughter. Mansouret, who was a politician in Strauss-Kahn’s Socialist party, says that she slept with Strauss-Kahn in the Paris office of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development in 2000, where Strauss-Kahn was serving as a special adviser. She consented to the sex, but added that it was “brutal.”
According to the French magazine L’Express (translation via Slate), Mansouret described “as a predator who isn’t looking to please but to take, and behaves like an obscene boor. Sexual lust makes him want to dominate.”
Yet Mansouret still discouraged her daughter from reporting the assault.
There is another puzzling inconsistency in Mansouret’s story. Mansouret claims that after Strauss-Kahn attempted to assault her daughter, she called his second wife, Brigitte Guillemette, who confronted him about the incidents. In Mansouret’s account, Strauss-Kahn told Guillemette, “I don’t know what happened to me. I slept with the mother, I lost it when I saw the daughter.”
The problem is that Guillemette told L’Express that Mansouret’s whole story is “false.” And, as Slate’s William Saletan points out, the more sordid and incestuous the story gets, the less credible Banon’s assault claim may seem, especially if Guillemette continues to deny Mansouret’s allegations. More women may need to come forward against Strauss-Kahn before a fair trial can move ahead. Given Strauss-Kahn’s history, it’s likely that he assaulted or attempted to assault other women. But given the media coverage, first of the New York housekeeper and now of Banon and Mansouret, it may be difficult to convince a woman who has already undergone a traumatic experience to put herself up to such intense scrutiny.
Photo from Marie-Lan Nguyen via Wikimedia Commons.