Home cinema, designer kitchen – no wonder Dominique Strauss-Kahn's smiling
Former IMF chief swaps Rikers Island jail for $50,000-a-month apartment in New York's trendy TriBeCa
Friday 27 May 2011
Dominique Strauss-Kahn was yesterday ensconced in plush new accommodations in a smart lower-Manhattan neighbourhood. But the legal challenges facing him intensified as New York prosecutors beefed up their team, while the hotel maid he is accused of trying to rape enlisted two prominent civil-liberties attorneys ahead of a possible civil lawsuit against him.
The new abode of the former International Monetary Fund chief is a detached four-bedroom townhouse, complete with a gym, home theatre and steam spa bath, for sale at an asking price of $14m (£8.6m) and renting for $50,000 a month.
Mr Strauss-Kahn moved in on Wednesday evening, smiling to reporters as he left the apartment. He was released on bail of $1m on 20 May.
His temporary new home in the Tribeca district – just a short walk from the courthouse where he will appear on 6 June – is a gilded cage, but it is also a very tightly barred one.
Mr Strauss-Kahn is considered a flight risk and his movements are monitored by armed guards and cameras around the clock. Although he is allowed out for court dates, doctors' visits and religious services, he must give prosecutors six hours' notice each time he plans to leave.
The security arrangements are being handled by the same company, Stroz Friedberg, that managed the house arrest of the financier Bernard Madoff, at an estimated cost to Mr Strauss-Kahn of $200,000 a month.
According to one of his lawyers, the former IMF director and one-time French presidential aspirant was "doing fine" under house arrest. But there was "not much he could do" and he was "very bored", William Taylor said .
Mr Strauss-Kahn, who spent several days in jail on Rikers Island after his arrest on 14 May, has been indicted on seven counts, four of them felony charges of criminal sexual acts, attempted rape and sexual abuse, and three misdemeanour offences, including unlawful imprisonment.
But he has denied all wrongdoing, saying in his statement of resignation from the IMF that he rejected "with the greatest possible firmness all of the allegations that have been made against me". On 6 June he is expected to plead not guilty, claiming that what occurred in his luxury suite at the Sofitel Hotel, close to Times Square, was consensual.
The court battle is set to be fierce. The Manhattan district attorney's office has assigned two female prosecutors, with experience of high-profile rape and murder trials, to join prosecutor Artie McConnell. They will take on Mr Strauss-Kahn's high-powered defence team of Mr Taylor and Benjamin Brafman.
Under New York law, any civil case by the maid, a 32-year-old immigrant from the West African country of Guinea, has to be filed within a year of the original incident. But it would almost certainly not go ahead until the criminal case was concluded.
Lawyer Jeffrey Shapiro has now been joined by two prominent civil-rights lawyers: Kenneth Thompson, an ex-federal attorney who successfully prosecuted the 1997 Abner Louima police-brutality case, and Norman Siegel, a former director of the New York Civil Liberties Union.
Mr Thompson and Mr Siegel took part in a meeting with the woman and her family on Wednesday afternoon. "They decided that they should have enhanced representation," Mr Shapiro said. One reason for adding the attorneys was to decide whether "there is a civil case going forward".
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