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Maid Reportedly Described Alleged Sex Assault by IMF Chief in Phone Call to Brother

The woman accusing IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn of a sexual assault told her brother "somebody did something really bad to me" in a phone call shortly after the alleged attack, the U.K. Daily Mail reports.  

The 32-year-old woman, a maid at the Sofitel Hotel in Manhattan, reportedly told her brother that she was trapped inside Strauss-Kahn's bedroom while he twice tried to force himself on her.   

"She rang me and she said, 'Somebody has done something really bad to me. I've been attacked,'" the woman's brother told the newspaper.

Strauss-Kahn, who heads the International Monetary Fund, spent the night in jail at Rikers Island, a 400-acre penal complex that offers a strikingly different level of comfort than the $3,000-a-night Manhattan hotel suite where authorities say he tried to rape the maid.

Strauss-Kahn was being held on a charge that would normally result in release, but he was denied bail Monday after prosecutors warned the wealthy banker might flee to France and put himself beyond the reach of U.S. law like the filmmaker Roman Polanski.

Strauss-Kahn's weekend arrest rocked the financial world as the IMF grapples with the European debt crisis, and upended French presidential politics. Strauss-Kahn, a member of France's Socialist party, was widely considered the strongest potential challenger next year to President Nicolas Sarkozy.

Making his first appearance Monday on the sex charges, a grim-looking Strauss-Kahn stood slumped before a judge in a dark raincoat and open-collared shirt. The 62-year-old, silver-haired economics chief said nothing as a lawyer professed Strauss-Kahn's innocence and strove in vain to get him released on bail.

"This battle has just begun," defense attorney Benjamin Brafman told scores of reporters outside the courthouse, adding that Strauss-Kahn might appeal the bail denial.

Because of his high profile, Strauss-Kahn will be held in protective custody on Rikers Island, away from most detainees, said city Correction Department spokesman Stephen Morello. Unlike most prisoners who share 50-bed barracks, he will have a single-bed cell and will eat all of his meals alone there. He'll have a prison guard escort when he is outside his cell.

Rikers is one of the nation's largest jail complexes, with a daily inmate population of about 14,000 — more than the prison populations of many states.

The complex's notable history includes accounts of run-ins between inmates and guards. In one such case last year, a guard was sentenced to six years in prison for ordering inmate beatings as part of a rogue disciplinary system. Prosecutors said he imposed order in a unit at the complex by having teenage inmates beat other teenagers who had stepped out of line. The union that represents jail guards said the prisoners fabricated the allegations.

Also last year, more than a dozen correction officers were injured while stopping fights between inmates awaiting pretrial hearings at a jail there. And in February, the city settled a wrongful death lawsuit brought by the family of an inmate who died after a scuffle with guards.

Strauss-Kahn was ordered jailed at least until a court proceeding Friday. He cannot claim diplomatic immunity because he was in New York on personal business and was paying his own way, the IMF said. He could seek that protection only if he were conducting official business, spokesman William Murray said. The agency's executive board met informally Monday for a report on the charges against Strauss-Kahn, the managing director at the international lending agency since 2007.

The French newspaper Le Monde, citing people close to Strauss-Kahn, said he had reserved the suite at the Sofitel hotel for one night for a quick trip to have lunch with his daughter, who is studying in New York.

Strauss-Kahn is accused of attacking the maid, who had gone in to clean his penthouse suite Saturday afternoon at the luxury hotel near Times Square. He is charged with attempted rape, sex abuse, a criminal sex act, unlawful imprisonment and forcible touching. The most serious charge carries five to 25 years in prison.

The maid told authorities that she thought the suite was empty but that Strauss-Kahn emerged from the bathroom naked, chased her down a hallway, pulled her into a bedroom and later dragged her into a bathroom, police said.

He grabbed her breasts, tried to pull down her pantyhose, grabbed at her crotch and forced her to perform oral sex on him during the encounter at about noon, according to a court complaint. She ultimately broke free, escaped the room and told hotel staffers what had happened, authorities said. She was treated at a hospital for minor injuries.

"The victim provided a very powerful and detailed account of the violent sexual assault," Assistant District Attorney John "Ardie" McConnell said. He added that forensic evidence may support her account. Strauss-Kahn voluntarily submitted to a forensic examination Sunday night.

The alleged victim's brother, whom the U.K. Daily Mail did not name, said he's confident Strauss-Kahn will be brought to justice.

"I trust the American justice system and will let it do what it has to do," the brother told the newspaper. "I want him to see justice. Justice will be served/" 

Brafman said defense lawyers believe the forensic evidence "will not be consistent with a forcible encounter." Defense lawyers wouldn't elaborate, but Brafman said "there are significant issues that were already found" that make it "quite likely that he will be ultimately be exonerated."

Prosecutors asked the judge to hold Strauss-Kahn without bail, noting that he lives in France, is wealthy, has an international job and was arrested on a Paris-bound plane at Kennedy Airport. He had left the Sofitel hotel before police arrived, leaving his cell phone behind, and appeared hurried on surveillance recordings, authorities said.

At one point, Strauss-Kahn called the hotel "in a panic" about the phone, a law enforcement official said Monday.

Hotel security officers hadn't found a phone. But they were instructed by NYPD investigators to set a trap by informing him they had it and asking where they could get it to him, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the investigation had not been completed.

Strauss-Kahn told them he was about to board a flight — unknowingly tipping off authorities to his whereabouts, the official said.

Prosecutors said they couldn't force Strauss-Kahn's return from France if he went there.

"He would be living openly and notoriously in France, just like Roman Polanski," said Chief Assistant District Attorney Daniel Alonso, referring to the film director long sought by California authorities for sentencing in a 1977 child sex case.

Defense lawyers suggested bail be set at $1 million and promised that the IMF managing director would remain in New York City. His lawyers said Strauss-Kahn wasn't trying to elude police Saturday: The IMF head rushed out of the hotel at about 12:30 p.m. to get to a lunch date with a family member, then caught a flight for which he had long had a ticket, they said.

Allegations of other, similar attacks by Strauss-Kahn began to emerge Monday. In France, a lawyer for a novelist said the writer is likely to file a criminal complaint accusing him of sexually assaulting her nine years ago. A French lawmaker accused him of attacking other maids in previous stays at the same luxury hotel. And in New York, prosecutors said they are working to verify reports of at least one other case, which they suggested was overseas.

A lawyer for 31-year-old French novelist Tristane Banon said she will probably file a complaint alleging Strauss-Kahn sexually attacked her in 2002. Lawyer David Koubbi told French radio RTL that Banon hadn't pressed her claim earlier because of "pressures" but would do so now because "she knows she'll be taken seriously."

The Associated Press is identifying Banon as an alleged victim of sexual assault because she has gone public with her account.

McConnell, the assistant district attorney, said in court Monday that New York authorities are working to verify at least one other case of "conduct similar to the conduct alleged." When the judge asked whether the potential other incident occurred in the United States, McConnell said he "believed that was abroad."

In France, defenders of Strauss-Kahn, a former finance minister who had topped the polls as a possible candidate in presidential elections next year, said they suspected he was the victim of a smear campaign.

The 187-nation IMF provides emergency loans to countries in severe distress and tries to maintain global financial stability.

The Associated Press contributed to this report 

 

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