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IMF Chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn Arrested For Sexual Assault in New York

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the head of the International Monetary Fund and the expected Socialist Party candidate in France's next presidential elections, was removed from an Air France flight at JFK last night and  arrested "on charges of criminal sexual act, attempted rape, and an unlawful imprisonment in connection with a sexual assault on a 32-year-old chambermaid in the luxury suite of a Midtown Manhattan hotel yesterday," according to a police spokesman. He's being detained at the SVU.

Here's a pro tip for powerful dirty old men: when the maid comes in to clean your hotel suite, try not stepping out of the bathroom stark naked and wrestling her into the bedroom. It will backfire.

That's what happened, creepily enough. Around 1 p.m. yesterday, Strauss-Kahn came out of the bathroom naked, startling the maid who thought the suite at the Sofitel New York was empty. According to the maid's account, he grabbed her and pulled her onto the bed. She fought him off but then he grabbed her again and pulled her into the bathroom, where he tried to take off her underwear and forced her to perform oral sex, according to the Daily News. She escaped and called 911, but by the time the authorities got there S-K had split. Ew, ew, ew.

Strauss-Kahn was widely thought to not only be the likely Socialist candidate, but the likely winner of the election; in polls, the incumbent Nicolas Sarkozy is (was?) trailing him. Strauss-Kahn has really blown it. If you understand French, listen in to Le Figaro's political editor explaining some of the consequences of the event; in short, whether or not DSK is actually guilty, this might mean he's finished at both the IMF and in French politics. (N.B. Le Figaro is a center-right paper; for the perspective from the left, check out Le Monde's take: "Even if it's too early to jump to conclusions, it seems certain that Dominique Strauss-Kahn will need a very long time to recover from these few days.")

This will also mean that the French elections are going to be way interesting. The Socialist field is wide open, and now it's not a sure bet that Sarkozy will be out despite his increasing unpopularity. Also, this could benefit the horrid extreme-right Front National party, which is led by a spawn of the terrifying Jean-Marie Le Pen. It's going to be a mess.

UPDATE 2:04 p.m.: DSK's lawyer says he'll plead not guilty.

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rgray@villagevoice.com

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