Alleged victim to face Strauss-Kahn in court: lawyer

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The woman who alleges fallen IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn tried to rape her will go to court to recount how she suffered "a terrible sex assault," her lawyer said Monday.

"She's a woman of dignity and respect," lawyer Kenneth Thompson said of the 32-year-old immigrant from west Africa who has accused Strauss-Kahn of sexually assaulting her when she went to clean his hotel room.

"It was a terrible sex assault on an innocent woman. She's going to come to the court house. She's going to tell the truth. What she wants is justice," Thompson said, speaking outside the New York Supreme Court.

The accusations against one of the world's most famous men has drawn huge media attention. But to this day his accuser remains barely known.

Strauss-Kahn's defense team Monday again hinted that their strategy could be to maintain that any sexual activity in the Sofitel suite was consensual.

"It will be clear that there was no element of forcible compulsion in this case whatsoever. Any suggestion to the contrary is simply not credible," defense lawyer Benjamin Brafman said.

The alleged victim has so far been kept in the shadows, hidden from the press pack as she waits possibly for months to testify in the trial, amid rumors circulating about her character and background.

But Thompson said that "she's not courting publicity."

"The victim wants you to know that all of Dominique Strauss-Kahn's power, money, and influence throughout the world will not keep the truth about what he did to her in that hotel room from coming out," Thompson said.

The former IMF chief, who resigned as head of the International Monetary Fund in the days after his arrest on May 14, pleaded not guilty to the charges of sexual assault and attempted rape on Monday.

A full three weeks after Strauss-Kahn's arrest, all officials will say about the alleged victim is that she is 32, immigrated from west Africa and worked for three years at a Sofitel in Times Square. She also has a teenage daughter.

Prosecutors are barred by law from saying who she is. Journalists have uncovered her name, but most big media outlets, including AFP, prohibit publication, limiting exposure to French media, which have different rules.

Although reporters have visited her former Harlem apartment building -- and even her extended family's house in a remote part of Guinea -- almost nothing about the maid's personal life is known. Her current whereabouts remain secret.

Legal experts say the maid's furtiveness is understandable.

"It's very common that women who are claiming they were sexually abused don't come forward," said Jay K. Goldberg, a criminal defense attorney with experience in rape cases. "There's no reason for her to make an appearance and she's not required to be in court until the trial."

© 2011 AFP

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