The lawyer for a French journalist who has accused Dominique Strauss-Kahn of sexual assault eight years ago met Tuesday with prosecutors in New York investigating the former International Monetary Fund director for an alleged sexual assault on a luxury-hotel maid in May, according to people familiar with the meeting.
Prosecutors in Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance’s office discussed whether journalist Tristane Banon, who recently filed the complaint against Strauss-Kahn in France alleging the 2003 incident, would be willing to cooperate with the New York investigation, the sources, speaking on the condition of anonymity, told The Daily Beast.
The discussions Tuesday with French attorney David Koubbi were designed to see whether Banon would agree to an interview and provide information helpful to New York investigators, but it was unlikely to result in Banon being asked to appear before an American grand jury, the sources said.
Koubbi was accompanied at Tuesday’s meeting by Kenneth Thompson, a former federal prosecutor who is the private attorney for the Sofitel hotel maid who alleges Strauss-Kahn sexually assaulted her May 14 after she entered his room to clean it. The two lawyers were observed entering the prosecutors’ building at midday. Sources said Thompson arranged for Koubbi to travel across the Atlantic to meet with the American prosecutors.
New York prosecutors formally charged Strauss-Kahn two months ago in the alleged hotel attack, but their case ran into problems recently after they disclosed they had concerns about the maid’s credibility. Prosecutors still believe Strauss-Kahn engaged in a sexual encounter with the maid but are trying to determine whether they can proceed to trial and whether the maid will make a credible witness, the sources said. They have asked the court for more time to investigate additional issues, and a judge has delayed the next court hearing until early August.
Lawyers for Strauss-Kahn have denied he did anything wrong, and he has pleaded innocent.
As part of the decision process, New York investigators hope they can talk with Banon to determine whether Strauss-Kahn engaged in a pattern of sexual advances on women that might mirror the maid’s description of the alleged attack, the sources said. Banon “is probably not admissible as a witness at trial but getting her cooperation can help with the decision on whether to proceed or drop the charges,” one source told The Beast.
Banon alleges she was attacked in 2003 while conducting an interview with Strauss-Kahn, but she did not formally file a complaint until this year. French authorities are investigating, and Strauss-Kahn’s lawyers have denied the allegations and threatened to sue the journalist for slander.
In a new twist, Banon’s mother came forward Tuesday to say she engaged in a consensual encounter with Strauss-Kahn years earlier that turned out to be rough and vulgar.