Life isn’t getting any better for former IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn, who once upon a time hoped to be the next president of France. He continues to be at the center of sex scandals, including reports of “swingers” parties with prostitutes in Paris and at Washington’s W Hotel. This week he was jailed for 32 hours in Lille, France, as part of an investigation into a prostitution ring. He was released Wednesday but will likely have to go before a French magistrate again on March 28. Here in the US, a March 15 court date has been set in New York for the civil lawsuit filed by a housekeeper who accused him of raping her last May at the Sofitel hotel. He was held under house arrest in New York until July, when he was released in advance of the prosecutor dropping charges, which happened in August.
We tried to find out what went on here in Washington, but the W Hotel would not comment. We asked a spokesperson at the French Embassy, who responded, “To be completely honest, I’m not really in a mood to enter into this topic.” We also put in a call to DSK’s criminal lawyer, William W. Taylor III, who is with the DC-based firm Zuckerman Spaeder. He, too, told us, “No comment.” We contacted a close personal friend of Strauss-Kahn and his wife, Anne Sinclair, who had dined with them on a number of occasions. The response? “Definitely out of that loop. We had absolutely no idea. The whole thing is tragic on every level.”
On the other hand, when we talked to some Washington-based French journalists, they were not in the least surprised by the revelations. “He was notorious in the ranks of French journalists,” said Philippe Gassot, who is a correspondent for French government television and who met DSK on more than one occasion. “It was not a mystery. The joke was, if you have a sister, don’t introduce her to Strauss-Kahn.”
Another French correspondent, who works in Washington for one of the principal networks and who asked to remain anonymous, said Strauss-Kahn was “widely known” to have an extramarital sex life. “He was extremely good at compartmentalizing. He had seven or eight cell phones.” This journalist said the staff at IMF believed he had cleaned up his act in preparation for seeking the Socialist Party nomination for president. “All the staffers at IMF and in the Socialist party told me they were convinced he had stopped.” According to this source, it was believed the most effective way to “lobby DSK” was to “basically pay for prostitutes.” That’s allegedly what went on at the W, involving a French construction company.
Gassot said of Strauss-Kahn, “He’s not a fascinating fellow, but he has a kind of charm. He knows how to talk to people. Very clever. He has no doubt about his talent. He can be rude. In France, they knew what he was like.”
But it’s not all sex and scandal for DSK. He’s accepted an invitation to speak on economic issues before the Cambridge Union debating society March 9 at Cambridge University in England. However, female members of the students’ union are furious. A petition was distributed, protesting the invitation. So far, according to news reports, 240 people have signed. It accuses the Cambridge Union of a “callous desire to exploit gender crime allegations in the service of controversy.”
Truthfully, if it were up to us, we’d like to hear what DSK’s wife has to say.