Strauss-Kahn: old sexual assault claim resurfaces

Tristane Banon

IMF chief allegedly described as ‘rutting chimpanzee’ by woman who claims she had to fight him off

BY Linda Palermo LAST UPDATED AT 12:06 ON Mon 16 May 2011

Dominique Strauss-Kahn's weekend from hell got even worse last night when French television broadcast claims that he had assaulted a young author nine years ago.

Tristane Banon (pictured above right), then in her twenties, had approached the IMF chief in 2002 - when he was just a deputy in the French parliament - to ask for an interview.

The encounter took a disturbing turn for Banon, who is a goddaughter of Strauss-Kahn's second wife, when the politician allegedly turned into what she reportedly described as a "rutting chimpanzee" who had to be fought off.

"We ended up fighting anyway, it was all very, very violent," said Banon. "I kicked out at him. He undid my bra and tried to open my jeans. While we were fighting, I used the word 'rape' to scare him."

She managed to escape the alleged attack and afterwards, Banon spoke with a lawyer and with her mother Anne Mansouret, a Socialist party official, and decided not to press charges. She explained: "I didn't dare go through with it. I didn't want to be remembered as the girl who had a problem with the politician."

These claims had initially been levelled in a 2007 documentary, but Strauss-Kahn's name was bleeped out.

According to the Guardian, Mansouret told French reporters yesterday that she had actively discouraged her daughter from pursuing the matter, believing Strauss-Kahn's behaviour to be out of character.

"I am sorry to have discouraged my daughter from complaining. I bear a heavy responsibility," she said. Mansouret said that while Strauss-Kahn was "an otherwise warm, sympathetic and extremely talented man" the assault had been intensely traumatic for her daughter.

"Despite the passing years, [Tristane] is still shocked by these facts. Her life was completely upset by this affair and she was depressed for a long time." Mansouret added that Strauss-Kahn had "difficulty controlling his urges".

Banon's lawyer now says the writer is revisiting the possibility of legal action against Strauss-Kahn, according to BBC News.

But Thierry Saussez, a former adviser to French president Nicolas Sarkozy, is unimpressed with the sudden focus on Strauss-Kahn's supposed "urges".

"All this stupefaction from people is sheer hypocrisy," he says. "Everyone in Paris has known for years he had something of a problem. Not many female journalists are prepared to interview him alone these days." And the circumstances behind Strauss-Kahn's affair in 2008 with a colleague at the IMF are also facing fresh scrutiny.

Intriguingly, a French newspaper correspondent warned before Strauss-Kahn even left for the IMF that his 'insistent' womanising would get him into trouble. Writing on a blog in 2007, Jean Quatremer, Liberation's man in Brussels said: "The only real problem with Strauss-Kahn is his relationship to women. He is too insistent, which can manifest itself as harassment.

"The IMF is an international institution with Anglo-Saxon morals. One inappropriate gesture, one unfortunate comment, and there will be a media hue and cry." · 

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