The ex-wife of Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the former head of the International Monetary Fund who was dramatically hauled off an international flight at JFK airport and accused of sexually assaulting a maid at a Manhattan hotel in May 2011, has finally broken her silence.
Anne Sinclair, 72, said that she was “bathed in denial” about her husband’s activities and characterized her attitude to him as one of “submission and acceptance.”
In an interview with French Elle magazine, Sinclair, a well-known French journalist and television host, said that coming to terms with her husband’s actions was hard because “we had a very happy time, I loved this life and I loved this man.”
She described DSK, as Strauss-Kahn was widely known, as, “very intelligent, very brilliant, capable of taking an interest in a thousand things.”
The allegations in the New York case were memorably summarized by The Daily Beast’s late Paris-based foreign editor Chris Dickey who described it thus:
“DSK, as everyone called him, seems really to have believed his big swinging shtick made him irresistible to women, including an illiterate widowed African immigrant maid in New York’s five-star Sofitel Hotel. In May 2011 she alleged that when she went to clean his room, he came out of the shower stark naked, cornered her, forced her into the hallway of his suite and onto her knees, made her fellate him, ejaculated in her mouth, and tried to grab his way to her crotch but couldn’t get through the two pairs of pantyhose and the underwear she had on.”
The case was eventually settled out of court for an undisclosed sum, but DSK was then pursued by French police over his alleged involvement in a prostitution ring in the city of Lille. He was eventually acquitted of all charges but revelations about his lifestyle made in the course of the trial shocked French society.
In one episode, DSK, discussed sex parties he had attended in Lille saying: “The prosecution gives the impression of unbridled activity… There were only 12 parties in total. That is four per year over three years.”
The interview with Sinclair is based on her memoir, entitled Passé Composé (Past Tense), which is due to be published in France this month and promises to lift the lid on one of Paris’ most extraordinary sex scandals.
Elle magazine’s interviewer asked Sinclair to explain what she meant when she described her relationship with DSK by using the word “emprise” or “grip” in her book.
Sinclair replied, “I reproduced the pattern of dependence that connected me to my mother. I was a woman of action, I managed the family budget, I interviewed the powerful, [but] with him I was haunted by fear of disagreement and fearful of displeasing him. So, if that was a “grip,” I don't know, but in any case, submission and acceptance.”
As the allegations against DSK spiraled, a French journalist, Tristane Banon, accused him of attempting to rape her in 2003. She described him in her book The Hypocrite’s Ball as behaving like a “rutting chimpanzee.”
Although none of the sex allegations against DSK ever resulted in a conviction, they terminated his ambitions to be the president of France.
Sinclair said in the interview that she personally “did not want to go” to the Élysée Palace, the official residence of the French president, and neither did her husband.
“Obviously, I had him said, if you go, I will go with you. But I know very well what public life is, to live in front of people, and frankly that has never been my dream.
“The second thing that was close to my heart was to understand that I knew nothing about my husband’s behavior. I know it is very difficult to admit, I admit that myself, if I were told this, I would not believe it, but yet it is true.”
The interviewer asked Sinclair, who is herself heir to a vast art fortune, to elaborate on a section in her memoir where she describes herself as “bathed in denial.”
Sinclair replied: “I was in denial because I was confident. He had a very strong power of persuasion; when I had suspicions, he dismantled and I wanted to believe him. Dominique knew me very well, he knew very well how to convince me.”