Dominique Strauss-Kahn has left the United States. The former IMF chief boarded an Air France flight Saturday night for Paris, where he faces an uncertain welcome. Once considered the front-runner for the Socialist Party's presidential nomination, DSK's political ambitions took a hit from the sexual-assault case involving a West African hotel maid.
Although the Manhattan district attorney dropped criminal charges against Strauss-Kahn, the Sofitel maid has filed a civil suit against him. He also faces possible charges in France, where a TV journalist claims that Strauss-Kahn tried to rape her during an interview in 2004.
The Socialist Party recently held its summer "university" ïn anticipation of the 2012 elections, and there was little official mention of DSK, although he was the subject of informal discussions. Many Frenchmen think his arrest was part of a conspiracy to discredit him, and they were appalled at the blunt style of American justice, including the "perp walk." However, the searing examination in the news media of his aggressive approach to women prompted a discussion about gender equality in France and how far it has yet to go.
Strauss-Kahn was seen leaving his luxury rental apartment in lower Manhattan Saturday afternoon with his wife Anne Sinclair and arriving by car at John F. Kennedy International Airport. Last month, prosecutors took the rare step of requesting dismissal of the charges after they discovered contradictions in the account of the maid, Nafissatou Diallo, a 32-year-old immigrant from Guinea.
A New York judge dropped all criminal charges against Strauss-Kahn on August 23, leaving him free to return to France — where he was once seen as a leading candidate for the French presidency — and rebuild his shattered career. The decision ended a case that brought three months of sordid headlines on both sides of the Atlantic. Strauss-Kahn strongly denied sexual assault from the start. His lawyer Benjamin Brafman told Reuters in an interview after charges were dropped: "This encounter was quick, it was consensual and she was a willing participant." Strauss-Kahn, who led the International Monetary Fund through the 2007-09 global financial meltdown, resigned from the IMF on May 18. The charismatic diplomat was pulled from an Air France first-class seat by police 10 minutes before it was to take off for Paris and thrown into New York City's Rikers Island jail on charges of attempted rape.
Read the rest of this story at Reuters.
For more on Strauss-Kahn and the hotel-maid case, read The Root contributor Sherrilyn A. Ifill's essay DSK and 'The Help' We Don't Want to See. Also read Columbia Law professor Patricia Williams on why the case couldn't go forward in Sex, Lies and the DSK Case.