Dominique Strauss-Kahn Arrested for Alleged Sexual Assault

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the head of the International Monetary Fund and likely rival of Nicolas Sarkozy in France’s presidential race next year, was arrested Saturday in New York and accused of sexual assault. Read our breaking updates on the case.

05.14.11 8:40 PM ET

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the leader of the International Monetary Fund and an expected candidate in France's presidential elections next year, was arrested after boarding an Air France flight from New York to Paris on suspicion of sexually assaulting a maid in a Manhattan hotel on Saturday. Authorities took him from the first-class section of the plane and arrested him just minutes before the jet was to depart. He is now in NYPD custody.

Around noon today, a housekeeper entered Strauss-Kahn’s room at the Sofitel on West 44th Street. Allegedly, he emerged from his bathroom naked, grabbed the maid, and forced her to perform oral sex on him. According to the allegations, the maid eventually left the room, either by escaping or after Strauss-Kahn let her go. He left for JFK soon afterward, where he was pulled off his plane.

Strauss-Kahn, a member of France’s Socialist Party, is the leading rival to President Nicolas Sarkozy for the 2012 presidential election. Strauss-Kahn was France’s minister of economy and finance from 1997 to 1999. He resigned from that post to fight charges that he was paid for consulting work he never did, but judges eventually decided he had actually done the work he claimed.

In 2007, Strauss-Kahn lost the Socialist Party nomination to Ségolène Royal, who then lost to  Sarkozy in the general election. Sarkozy then backed Strauss-Kahn to head the International Monetary Fund, which many in France believe was an attempt by Sarkozy to get his rival out of the country. Just Friday, news reports suggested that Sarkozy had begun a smear campaign against Strauss-Kahn, drawing attention to Kahn’s extravagant lifestyle. Strauss-Kahn is also currently suing a French newspaper that claimed he lived an extravagant lifestyle that included luxury homes and suits ordered from Barack Obama’s tailor.

Hours before the arrest, an ally in the Socialist Party said, “There is now a totally structured and orchestrated campaign…to attack the character of Strauss-Kahn.”

Hours before the arrest, an ally in the Socialist Party said, “There is now a totally structured and orchestrated campaign…to attack the character of Strauss-Kahn.” 

Strauss-Kahn is marred to Anne Sinclair, a French television journalist. In 2008, he had an affair with an IMF subordinate, which he called “an error in judgment.” He was cleared of any dismissible violations of ethics codes.

Strauss-Kahn was supposed to meet with German Chancellor Angela Merkel Sunday in order to discuss the European debt crisis. As of Saturday night, that meeting has been canceled.