Paris opens Strauss-Kahn rape investigation

The Paris prosecutor's office said it has opened a preliminary investigation into accusations by a French writer that former IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn tried to rape her.

The probe comes just as New York prosecutors are weighing whether or not to go ahead with a case in which a chambermaid accused Strauss-Kahn — long considered a top contender for France's presidency — of sexual assault. Questions have surfaced about the maid's credibility, throwing the high-profile case into disarray.



Back in France, novelist and journalist Tristane Banon filed a criminal complaint this week saying that Strauss-Kahn attacked her in an empty apartment in 2003 during an interview for a book project, struggling with her on the floor as he tried to tear off her clothes.



An official in the Paris prosecutor's office said today that a preliminary investigation has been opened into the complaint. The official was not authorized to be publicly named because the investigation is under way.



The probe allows investigators from a special police brigade to question Banon and those close to her about the eight-year-old incident.



It could also allow French investigators to question Strauss-Kahn, though most likely not unless and until he returns to France. New York authorities have kept his passport pending a decision on what happens in the case there.



Strauss-Kahn quit as head of the International Monetary Fund after he was arrested in New York in May based on accusations of assault made by a hotel maid. Strauss-Kahn denies wrongdoing, and last week, he was released without bail after prosecutors said publicly that the maid has a history of lying.



Questions have also surfaced about the viability of the French accusation against Strauss-Kahn.



Banon made no official report of being victimized after the alleged attack, and Banon's lawyer has not described any physical evidence that could be brought against Strauss-Kahn.



Banon has acknowledged the difficulty of proving her case, saying she took action to deal with the trauma of the alleged incident and to refute those who say she's been lying.



She said in an interview with the magazine L'Express that Strauss-Kahn grabbed her hand and arm before the two fell to the floor of his apartment and fought for several minutes, with the politician trying to open her jeans and bra and putting his fingers in her mouth and underwear.



Strauss-Kahn's lawyers have called the incident "imaginary" and threatened to file a criminal complaint accusing Banon of slander.



After the preliminary probe into her claim, which could take weeks or months, the Paris prosecutor's office could decide to drop the case or pursue the investigation, which could eventually lead to a trial.



The probe will help prosecutors determine whether her allegations support a charge of attempted rape, rather than the less serious crime of sexual assault. Under French law, sexual assault is an attack that does not involve an attempt to penetrate the victim. It has a three-year statute of limitations — meaning the 2003 incident would be to old to prosecute — compared with 10 for attempted rape.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Photographer / Floorplanner / Domestic Energy Assessor

£16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Photographer/ Floor planner /...

Ashdown Group: Front-End Developer - Surrey - £40,000

£30000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Front-End Developer - Guildford/Craw...

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Assistant

£13500 - £15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Customer Service Assistant is...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - OTE £35,000

£16000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An ambitious and motivated Sale...

Day In a Page

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence