French writer Banon to file assault charge on Strauss-Kahn

Reuters News
Posted: Jul 04, 2011 10:49 AM
French writer Banon to file assault charge on Strauss-Kahn

PARIS (Reuters) - A French writer will file a legal complaint against former IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn on Tuesday alleging that he tried to rape her during an incident nine years ago, her lawyer told Reuters Monday.

The move comes just as a U.S. case against Strauss-Kahn on charges of attempted rape and sexual assault of a hotel maid seems close to collapse after prosecutors acknowledged she had lied under oath and changed her story.

The turnabout in the New York case has prompted some calls for the former Socialist finance minister to make a political comeback in France.

Lawyer David Koubbi said the complaint by Tristane Banon, 32, would relate to an incident that took place when she went to interview Strauss-Kahn, a former French finance minister, in an apartment in Paris. She was 22 at the time.

"Tristane Banon will file a complaint Tuesday for attempted rape in Paris," Koubbi said.

"These acts are extremely serious," he added. "These events were combined with a violence that was absolutely striking for these kinds of situations."

The move by Banon, a journalist and author of a book and two novels, will follow Strauss-Kahn's release from house arrest in New York Friday after prosecutors said they now doubted the credibility of his Guinean-born accuser.

Koubbi would not say whether the timing was affected by developments in New York. Until his May arrest, Strauss-Kahn was seen as the left's best chance of winning the 2012 election.

Under French law, attempted rape charges can be brought up to 10 years after an alleged attack, whereas sexual assault charges expire after three years.

Koubbi had said several times in recent weeks his client was considering taking action against Strauss-Kahn for the incident, which he said Monday took place in early 2003, not in 2002 as had previously been reported.

However, he also said she did not wish to be associated with the U.S. prosecution and would not respond to an appeal by the New York plaintiff's lawyer to testify.

Baron's mother Anne Mansouret, a Socialist councilor, has said she regrets talking her daughter out of filing a complaint at the time.

The incident first surfaced publicly in 2007, when Banon described it in graphic detail on a television talk show, albeit with Strauss-Kahn's name bleeped out by the broadcaster.

During the TV talk show, which was widely circulated online in recent weeks, Banon said he insisted on holding her hand during the interview before making advances that led to her fighting him off as he tried to undo her clothing.

(Reporting by Gerard Bon and Pauline Mevel; Additional reporting by Alexandria Sage; Writing by Catherine Bremer; editing by Paul Taylor)