Strauss-Kahn awaits trial in comfort

26th May 2011, Comments 0 comments

Dominique Strauss-Kahn may face a grueling trial on sex crime charges and potentially years in prison, but while on bail the fallen IMF chief is enjoying a $14 million Manhattan pad dripping in luxury features.

Strauss-Kahn, out on $6 million bail and living under house arrest, ended his odyssey to find suitable housing late Tuesday when he moved into a townhouse in Manhattan's ultra-hip Tribeca neighborhood.

Initial efforts by his multi-millionaire wife Anne Sinclair to rent an apartment in the more staid Upper East Side fell through when residents objected. The French politician also got a frosty welcome while briefly housed in a historic skyscraper near Wall Street.

But in Tribeca, home to Robert De Niro and numerous other glitterati, attitudes were more relaxed toward the notorious new resident and the horde of journalists following him around since his May 14 arrest on charges that he tried to rape a hotel maid.

"In truth, we are very used to having people attracting attention. But this is at a very large scale," Mark Obenhouse, 65, a filmmaker, said. "It's annoying, but I don't think it is a catastrophe."

Outside the house on Franklin Street about 15 journalists waited in hope of glimpsing Strauss-Kahn or Sinclair. Television satellite trucks were parked nearby and two police officers stood guard at the door.

A recent sales listing for the townhouse put a price tag of $14 million. Thrown in are four bedrooms, a jet tub and waterfall shower, a movie theater, roof terrace, and other celebrity trappings.

It's not clear what Strauss-Kahn is paying. The New York Post named a monthly rental of $50,000.

The neighborhood is one of the poshest in New York. Within a short walk there is the wine shop Vino Vino, a Brazilian steakhouse called Churrascaria and the Buon Gusto coffee shop.

Sadly for Strauss-Kahn, who denies forcing sex on his room maid at the posh Sofitel hotel, the bail rules forbid him from leaving the house for anything other than legal, medical or religious needs.

He is ordered to live under 24-hour armed guard and video surveillance has been installed on all exits. In addition, he wears a GPS monitoring device that can tell if he's strayed.

If Strauss-Kahn, who is Jewish, avails himself of the permitted weekly religious visit he could try the nearby Synagogue for the Arts. The synagogue's website promises a warm reception and "we are very aware that people lead very busy lives and weekend time is precious."

Strauss-Kahn must reappear in court on June 6, when he is expected to enter a formal plea of not guilty. If so, the case would move to trial later this year.

He was released on bail after spending nearly a week behind bars following his dramatic arrest, just hours after the alleged assault, as he was about to take off on an Air France plane for Paris.

© 2011 AFP

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