Strauss-Kahn seeks new refuge from 'nightmare'
Former IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn raced against time Monday to find a new home in a city that does not want him after sex crime charges he called a "personal nightmare."
Rejected by one luxury residence because of his newfound notoriety, the French politician under house arrest pending trial must soon leave his temporary abode and is battling to find a place that will accept him.
Charges that he attempted to rape and sexually assault a chambermaid in a New York hotel on May 14 forced him to resign as head of the International Monetary Fund last week and torpedoed his chances of standing in the French presidential election next year.
But Strauss-Kahn again denied the accusations in an email message sent to IMF staff late Sunday in which he expressed "profound sadness" at the way he left his $450,000 a year tax-free post.
"I deny in the strongest possible terms the allegations which I now face; I am confident that the truth will come out and I will be exonerated," he wrote.
"In the meantime, I cannot accept that the Fund --- and you dear colleagues -- should in any way have to share my own personal nightmare. So, I had to go."
Strauss-Kahn is currently holed up in the Empire Building at 71 Broadway, where management has apologized to residents and said that the new arrival will be gone by "early" this week.
His wealthy wife, French television journalist Anne Sinclair, had previously arranged a $15,000 a month apartment on the Upper East Side. But Strauss-Kahn was rejected after residents complained about the bad publicity.
Sinclair left the Broadway apartment for a few hours on Sunday on what was believed to be part of the new hunt for a home. She has suspended her blog about American life, "Two or three things seen from America."
"Dear reader, many, many many of you have sent me messages," Sinclair wrote. "I cannot answer everybody, but know that these touched me and helped me."
"You will understand the circumstances that have forced me to temporarily suspend this blog. All I can say is, a bientot."
While Strauss-Kahn gets used to bail life wearing an ankle bracelet and being forced to stay in an apartment under the watch of video surveillance and and armed guard around the clock, the legal battle is heightening even before his next court appearance on June 6 to make a formal plea.
His lawyer Benjamin Brafman has said Strauss-Kahn will plead not guilty and that he is confident his client will go free.
"He has impressed me very much. Despite the circumstances, he's doing well," Brafman told the Israeli newspaper Haaretz in an interview.
The defense team has hired a posse of private investigators who, according to media reports, are already sifting through the 32-year-old accuser's personal history in New York and her native Guinea in West Africa.
Prosecutors told Strauss-Kahn's bail hearing last week that they are also building a "strong" case in support of the accusations.
DNA tests taken from the Sofitel hotel where the attack allegedly took place are being studied. However no details have been made public. "We won't release any evidence before the trial," said Erin Duggan, a spokeswoman for the district attorney in New York.
Strauss-Kahn was arrested on an Air France flight just as it was about to leave New York's John F. Kennedy airport, a few hours after the alleged attack. He spent the first days in detention at the notorious Rikers island jail.
He now faces seven counts, including the attempted rape charge.
Ian Weinstein, a law professor at Fordham University in New York, said that if convicted at trial, "a sentence of 10 years in prison is entirely likely, and a sentence higher than that is entirely possible."
© 2011 AFP