Time Travel

The Impossible Timeline in the Dominique Strauss-Kahn Case

Edward Jay Epstein counts backward from Dominique Strauss-Kahn’s checkout to the moment the maid entered his room, and the result is surprising.

Let’s walk the cat backward for Dominique Strauss-Kahn. On May 14, 2011, the day he was arrested, we have one—and only one—firm time point for DSK at the Sofitel Hotel: 12:28 p.m. At 12:28 p.m., he completed the checkout process at the front desk, according to the hotel’s computer.

(1) 12:27 p.m.

If we assume it takes one minute to walk from the elevator to the front desk and sign the form, he left the elevator at 12:27 p.m.

(2) 12:23 p.m.

According to my stopwatch, it takes four minutes to walk from the room to the elevators, wait for one to arrive, and descend from the 28th floor to the lobby. Accordingly, at the latest, he left his room at 12:23 p.m.

(3) 12:21 p.m.

The desk security camera shows toothpaste on his lips, so we know he brushed his teeth and packed his toothbrush (which was not found in the room). On security-camera footage his hair appeared combed. Assume hygiene takes two minutes.

(4) 12:12 p.m.

According to the testimony of his accuser, DSK was stark naked when she saw him in the room, so he had to get fully dressed—underwear, shirt, pants, socks, shoes, etc.—and gather his things for the exit. Assume that took about nine minutes. If so, his accuser could not have seen him naked after 12:12 p.m.

(5) 12:06–12:07 p.m.

The electronic door lock establishes that someone—supposedly DSK’s accuser—entered the room between 12:06 and 12:06:59 p.m. (it is accurate only to the previous minute), and according to her statement, it took a moment before he emerged naked from the bathroom. Assuming the interval took less than a minute, that leaves less than six minutes for him to pull her into the suite bedroom, lock the door, overpower her, and force her to commit fellatio, if the encounter took place as his accuser has alleged.

And, having walked the cat back, we are still left with a 14-minute gap between the time she ran out of DSK’s suite at 12:12 p.m. and the time she inserted her electronic key in the door of another room at 12:26 p.m., leaving the still-unanswered question: where was she from 12:12 to 12:26 p.m.?