Dominique Strauss Kahn returned to France after rape charges were dropped against him in New York. But his troubles aren't over.
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The former head of the IMF, whose hopes for the French presidency were dashed by the accusations that he sexually assaulted a New York City hotel chambermaid, has been implicated for the last month in a French prostitution scandal that won't go away, the Guardian reported. Strauss-Kahn has been "dominating the front pages again" since he was named in connection with the alleged prostitution ring, which revolves around a luxury hotel in Lille.
A Belgian sex worker — she goes by "Jade" — has gone public with the claim that she was paid to go to Washington for an "encounter" with Strauss-Kahn, The Guardian reports. Another woman detailed a series of rendezvous with Strauss-Kahn in 2009 and 2010, to which she was accompanied by a businessman, potentially a violation of France's anti-pimping laws. Other newspapers have been combing through Strauss-Kahn's text messages for suggestions of womanizing, and maybe paying for it.
The Hotel Carlton affair centres on allegations of pimping at top hotels in the northern French city, where women from France and massage parlours in Belgium were allegedly supplied for hotel customers and local officials. Eight people are under formal investigation, including a senior police officer, a local barrister and businessmen. Five have been imprisoned as the inquiry continues.
The investigation raises questions about the links between police and business figures and the underworld of sex work in France and Belgium. Prostitution involving people over the age of 18 is not illegal in France but pimping and living off the benefits of it is.
The affair took a new turn after Strauss-Kahn's name came up in statements made to investigators, according to a series of leaked transcripts published in the French media in recent weeks.
Judith Thurman at The New Yorker has more detail about the way the allegations, even if Strauss-Kahn committed no crimes, seem to show the internecine links between powerful and wealthy figures in French politics. The allegations suggest a transactional complex of sex, flattery, and deception.
Investigators have alleged that a businessman and friend of Strauss-Kahn, David Roquet, used his corporate expense account to pay for rooms at the Carlton, prostitutes for Strauss-Kahn, and travel—with prostitutes in tow—to visit him in New York. There were, it has been alleged, at least two such visits earlier this year, in February and in May, shortly before Strauss-Kahn’s arraignment. An associate of Roquet’s—Fabrice Paszkowski—has been arrested on charges of “aggravated pimping.” An exchange of suggestive text messages has been recovered from a cell phone that Paszkowski left in a Washington hotel room, and Strauss-Kahn picked up, and that was used at different times by both of them. (One message concerned a potential rendezvous in Washington, D.C. where the International Monetary Fund has its headquarters.)
The police commissioner in Lille has been suspended, after reports that he booked hotel rooms for Strauss Kahn and traveled with him and his associates to New York, writes Thurman.
DSK is taking a proactive approach to the scandal, and has demanded the right to face investigators and defend himself against the charges, Reuters reports. The daily reports in French newspapers have represented a "media lynching" of their client, Strauss-Kahn's lawyer told the wire service.
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- Dominique Strauss Kahn