07.26.13

Dominique Strauss-Kahn & ‘Aggravated Pimping’ 101

The former IMF head is set to go on trial for aggravated pimping. Why not just regular pimping? Eliza Shapiro explains.

Everyone’s favorite former global finance leader, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, will be tried on the charge of “aggravated pimping for his alleged involvement in a prostitution ring based in France, French authorities announced Friday.

So…what’s aggravated pimping, again? And how does it differ from plain old pimping?

There seems to be something lost in translation between French and American variations of the charge. In France, pimping is a broadly defined term, according to NBC News, that can “encompass aiding or encouraging the act of prostitution.”

In Strauss-Kahn’s case, it all boils down to a few casual sex parties gone awry. DSK’s attorney has admitted that his client attended such festivities in luxury hotels in Lille, but didn’t know that the women at the parties were, in fact, prostitutes. Now the scandal-prone Strauss-Kahn is facing a decade of jail time and a $2 million fine if convicted.  

Essentially, aggravated pimping is a worse version of pimping. Prostitution is legal in France, but a pimp profiting from the prostitution of another person is against the law.  

Aggravated pimping is also a crime in America, with the specifics of what constitutes the “aggravated” part varying from state to state

In Texas, the charge, called “aggravated promotion of prostitution” involves knowingly investing in, financing, controlling or supervising a prostitution ring with two or more prostitutes.  

In Maine, aggravated pimping involves drugs or threats that convince someone to become or remain a prostitute. And in Montana, the charge involves the prostitution of a child, spouse or someone else under the legal care of the pimp.  

The pimping allegations are, of course, far from the first time DSK has been accused of having sex in a manner that people go to prison for.  

Strauss-Kahn famously resigned as managing director of the International Monetary Fund after he was accused of raping a maid in a New York City hotel. He denied the allegations and charges against him were later dropped. He also gave up his bid for the French presidency in the wake of the allegations.  

French authorities are also investigating whether the prostitutes in the Lille ring were paid in part via corporate funds. After DSK was linked to the prostitution ring last November, his lawyers released a statement calling the charges "unhealthy, sensationalist, and not without a political agenda."

Now it’s up to a court to decide just how aggravating his behavior was.