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Air France Ordered Male-Only Cabin Crew for Strauss-Kahn

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 (Reuters)

PARIS -- Air France ruled that only male cabin crew were allowed to serve Dominique Strauss-Kahn, currently fighting accusations he attempted to rape a New York hotel maid.

The claim was reported Thursday by Le Parisien newspaper, which also says lawyers for the former IMF chief's alleged victim, Nafissatou Diallo, are soliciting testimony from female flight attendants at the national carrier, who may have been subjected to inappropriate behavior by the Frenchman.

The lawyers already received two accounts from disgruntled staff, along with an anonymous letter detailing the Air France male-only order, the report said.

"Air France has a few hundred complaints from clients, employees, crew members who met the man suspected of having abused your client Madame Diallo," the letter alleged, adding, "it was decided by Air France that 'only male employees should be deployed in the first class cabin when this client [Strauss-Kahn] was traveling.'"

Kenneth Thompson and Douglas Wigdor are quoted as saying, "this inexplicable mindset which enables him to abuse women is further proof which gives credibility to the aggression Madame Diallo underwent on May 14."

Strauss-Kahn was hauled off an Air France flight from New York's JFK to Paris just hours after the alleged hotel attack. The politician had a long-standing arrangement with the airline which allowed him to take his seat on whatever flight he wanted.

French magazine Le Point reported that just moments before Port Authority detectives arrived, he had barked at an attendant, "What a nice ass!" as she prepared the cabin for takeoff.

A spokesman for the airline told AFP that "Air France formally denies having given any instruction about the composition of its crews." Aviation unions also denied receiving reports of inappropriate behavior.

Strauss-Kahn, 62, once considered a top candidate to become the next president of France, was charged in a seven-count indictment with sexually attacking Diallo.

However, the New York district attorney's office has acknowledged concerns about the alleged victim's credibility and the Frenchman was released from house arrest July 1. He is not due back in court in New York until Aug. 23.

Strauss-Kahn is also facing legal action back home in Paris from the writer Tristane Banon, 32, who alleges he attempted to rape her in 2003. He also denies that allegation.