Dominique Strauss-Kahn, head of the International Monetary Fund and French Presidential hopeful was tracked by New York's finest and plucked directly from his first-class seat on a Paris-bound flight just minutes before departure. Earlier that same day, Strauss-Kahn allegedly held a maid captive in his $3000/night suite at the Hotel Sofitel in mid-town Manhattan. He then allegedly restrained and orally sodomized her. After the incident, he left the hotel for his scheduled flight. Full story here.
Doggonit! He left his phone behind. Don't you just hate when that happens. Coached by security officials, a hotel staff member called to tell him about the lost phone and gathered his flight information.
To her credit, the Sofitel chambermaid reported the crime to police and picked Mr. Strauss-Kahn out of a line-up. If she had only hesitated, equivocated, or deviated for a few hours more, the high-level cad would have been beyond the reach of US authorities. Due to the actions of this young woman, one of the most powerful men in the world will be arraigned today on attempted rape and criminal sexual assault charges. You go gurl!
This photo of Sofitel Washington DC is courtesy of TripAdvisor
When I saw his mug on the news last night, I recognized the name and face right away. I knew that guy, or at least we had been acquainted--sort of--when I worked at "Le Bar" in the Hotel Sofitel DC.
The French boutique hotel (translation-- tiny, over-priced rooms) is located on 15th and H, a stone's throw from the White House. During the 2008 campaign season we played host to a host of literary luminaries, congress critters, celebrities, journalists, and mid-level government officials. Lured by the glamour of the location, the job seemed to me more than just serving Arnold Palmers for lunch and cocktails after five. For a political junkie, the position was golden. I would be slightly privy to the turning wheels and whims of Washington. Of my 18 months as a Sofitel employee, the first year or so wonderous--a blur of celebrity encounters, power brokers and wine tastings. High times until the sparkle faded, until I woke up and realized that regardless of who you happen to be serving, serving sucks!
Dominique Strauss-Kahn was one of the guys on the wall in the service prep area, one of the in-house dignitaries whose names and faces we would commit to memory while we rolled silverware and filled salt shakers. With VIPs arranged pyramid style, Mr. Strauss-Kahn's picture was at the top. Working in a French bar, my biggest fear was being perceived as an American rube, especially when it came to wine. When the Strauss-Kahns of the world were scheduled to arrive, I made a careful study of the wine list and tasted my way to passable expertise.
Though I served Mr. Strauss-Kahn a few times it was always one of his aides who took the wine order. He never knew how much I knew. In my experience, the IMF chief was the consummate gentleman--not always the case with these dignitary types, trust me. He did not look like a sexual predator, far from it, but then they rarely do. He looked more like the grandpa next door, or perhaps a world banker.
So what happens now? In his court appearance today, he was determined by the judge to be a flight risk and denied bail. As I write, he sits in a holding cell awaiting formal sentencing later this week. An acting IMF chief has been appointed as the markets decide if his arrest is enough to disrupt international monetary affairs. While his lawyers vigorously deny the allegations, the preliminary evidence suggests otherwise. If the maid's story holds up, he can kiss his Presidential aspirations goodbye. Did his political rival, Nicolas Sarkozy, set him up with the maid to eliminate his competition? The plot thickens.
...And consider this, the Sofitel maid is not the only one to call the IMF chief out on his boorish behavior. Pictured above: "French writer Tristane Banon claims the IMF chief acted like a 'rutting chimpanzee' in an attack on her nine years ago." Ms. Banon was persuaded by her mother not to press charges at the time, but after learning of the attack on the maid in New York, she's had a change of heart. Opportunist or victim? Stay tuned...
Image credits: Financial Times, The London Telegraph