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10.17.11

Hooker-Ring Probe Embroils DSK

The former IMF chief has escaped attempted-rape charges in the U.S. and France, but now he looks to clear his name in a prostitution investigation that puts him at the scene of an orgy.

For Dominique Strauss-Kahn, October 16 was supposed to be a great day, a historic day—the second-round runoff of the Socialist Party primary for which he was once the heavy favorite, when he might well have become the Socialist Party nominee with the French presidency genuinely within his grasp in 2012. Assembled press might have ushered him to the polling station under a cloud of boom mics and, in a strobe of flashbulbs, captured the moment when he voted for himself.

Instead, after the Nafissatou Diallo and Tristane Banon affairs put an end to that dream, DSK was shadowed by the press at his polling place in suburban Paris on Sunday, but under very different circumstances. After the French weekly Journal du Dimanche carried word that two prostitutes questioned in the case of a northern France prostitution ring busted this month named DSK as a john, the former International Monetary Fund chief arrived to vote through a side door and let go a terse “Nothing!” when reporters approached for comment, according to Agence France-Presse. Strauss-Kahn later contacted AFP to say he wanted “to be questioned as quickly as possible by the judges” investigating the case, to put an end to “indiscriminate and once again malevolent insinuations and extrapolations.” (In the event, Monday’s story about him, “DSK Wants to Cut Short the Rumors,” ran on page 17 in the left-leaning daily Libération, well behind the “10 special pages” on François Hollande, the new Socialist nominee for the 2012 presidential election, who won the primary comfortably on Sunday.)

The prostitution-ring case has been making French headlines, but Strauss-Kahn’s name gave the story star power on Sunday. It is dubbed the Affaire du Carlton, after a four-star hotel at the heart of the scandal in Lille, northeast of Paris. So far, at least five people are facing charges, including a top Lille lawyer and other businessmen, and at least five police officers are under suspicion. The Journal du Dimanche report claimed the prostitution network sent girls on jobs to New York accompanied by a police commissioner who, it said, is an acquaintance of Strauss-Kahn’s. The Sunday weekly suggested police suspect DSK may have been a client of the network in the United States.

Meanwhile, on Monday afternoon Le Monde reported that one prostitute told investigators she met Strauss-Kahn at a Paris orgy, in a duplex near the famous Galeries LaFayette and Printemps department stores. But the French newspaper of record notes that even if that allegation were true, the encounter would not, in any case, be illegal.

Strauss-Kahn may have to wait a while for a chance to defend his honor while disparate bits from anonymous sources feed the rumor mill.

There is a suggestion that Strauss-Kahn may have to wait a while for a chance to defend his honor while disparate bits from anonymous sources feed the rumor mill. An AFP source close to the dossier has said investigators are considering questioning Strauss-Kahn as a witness, along with “tons of other people,” but not any time soon as he is “very secondary” to the case at hand.

Meanwhile on Monday, Tristane Banon, the French novelist who accused Strauss-Kahn of trying to rape her in 2003, has yet to decide whether she will bring a civil suit against the former IMF chief now that Paris public prosecutors have dropped her case. French authorities last week decided not to pursue an attempted-rape charge against Strauss-Kahn, but suggested he might have faced charges for sexual assault. (The shorter statute of limitations for sexual assault made prosecution impossible in Banon’s case after February 2006.) Banon said last month she would bring a civil suit if her case was dropped, but the French authorities’ official recognition that something reprehensible may have indeed happened back in 2003 now may change that. On Sunday, Banon’s lawyer, David Koubbi, said on French television that he is advising Banon, whom he says is broke, to drop the proceedings if she can find healing in the authorities’ statement. Koubbi also suggested an apology from Strauss-Kahn, who still has a libel case pending against Banon, could make the difference. In a press release Monday, the lawyer said his client could take until the end of the week to decide how to proceed.

It looks, therefore, as though Strauss-Kahn will make the papers again before Saturday, the day the Socialist Party convention officially invests Hollande as its 2012 presidential candidate.