Editor’s Note: Former IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn spoke exclusively to CNN’s Richard Quest, who you can follow on Twitter. Watch Quest Means Business, Monday to Friday 6pm GMT.
"I think it's a terrible thing, frankly," the former IMF chief tells CNN
"Perp walks" are standard fare in the United States
They are not allowed in France
The former chief of the International Monetary Fund who resigned after being charged two years ago with sexually assaulting a maid in a New York city hotel has lashed out at his treatment by police – particularly his forced participation in “the perp walk.”
“I think it’s a terrible thing, frankly,” Dominique Strauss-Kahn told CNN’s Richard Quest in his first English- language television interview since he resigned as head of the IMF in 2011. “The problem is, it’s a moment where in all European, American society you’re supposed to be innocent, you’re supposed to be innocent until you’re convicted.”
The economist had been widely expected to become France’s Socialist presidential candidate – until his professional career imploded with his May 2011 arrest.
A New York hotel housekeeper, Nafissatou Diallo, told police that Strauss-Kahn emerged naked from a room in his luxury hotel suite as she was cleaning it and tried to force himself on her, dragging her into the bathroom and trying to remove her underwear.
Strauss-Kahn’s arraignment was televised and clips played on U.S. and international networks. “Perp walks,” in which defendants – accompanied by police – walk in front of photographers handcuffed, are standard fare in America.
Underscoring the cultural differences between France and the United States, many French recoiled from images of Strauss-Kahn being paraded before the news media in handcuffs and in court – photographs that would be prohibited under French law to protect the presumption of innocence.
“The perp walk takes place at the moment where you (are) supposed to be innocent,” said Strauss-Kahn, who calls himself DSK. “You’re just shown to everybody as if you were a criminal, at a moment where nobody knows if it’s true or not – maybe you’re a criminal, maybe you’re not. That’s going to be proved later on, and so it is just unfair to put people in that way in front of the rest of the world when you just don’t know what they have done.”
Strauss-Kahn said he was angry at his treatment because he did not understand why he had been placed in custody. “I was just understanding that something was going on that I didn’t control,” he said.
Despite his insistence that the encounter was consensual, Strauss-Kahn stepped down from his $500,000 job at the IMF.
Forensic evidence showed that a sexual encounter had occurred and a grand jury indicted him on seven counts, including sexual abuse and attempted rape, but prosecutors dropped the charges after concluding Diallo had lied about some details of the alleged attack.
Diallo then sued Strauss-Kahn in civil court. The two sides settled late last year, though the details have not been disclosed.
Last October, a French prosecutor dropped an investigation connecting Strauss-Kahn to a possible gang rape in Washington. The Belgian woman whose testimony was the basis for the inquiry withdrew a previous statement and said she would not press charges, leaving the investigation with no grounds to continue, officials said.
Strauss-Kahn also faced allegations of attempted rape in 2003 against a French writer, Tristane Banon. But prosecutors said the statute of limitations had passed and the case could not be pursued.
The former IMF chief denied the allegations and has since filed a countersuit in France, alleging slander.