November 20, 2018

Police question Strauss-Kahn in French assault case

UPDATE: [1:10 p.m.] Strauss-Kahn was immune from civil suit under international law when suit was filed, his lawyers say.

Monday, Sept. 12
Former IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn was questioned by French police on Monday over a complaint of attempted rape, filed after his May arrest in New York in a separate sex assault case that forced him to resign but was later dropped.

Tristane Banon, a journalist and writer some 30 years his junior, says Strauss-Kahn assaulted her in 2003 in a Paris apartment where he had invited her to interview him for a book she was writing.

The former IMF chief, once seen as a favorite to challenge Nicolas Sarkozy for the French presidency, returned to France after U.S. prosecutors dropped charges last month that he tried to rape a hotel maid.

He was questioned by Paris police for about three hours before leaving the station around 0900 (GMT) in a car without making any comment to journalists.

His French lawyers said in a statement that Strauss-Kahn, who has yet to make any public comment since returning to his Paris home, had asked to be heard by police as soon as scheduling allowed.

Other high profile witnesses, including Socialist presidential candidate Francois Hollande, have been questioned by police in the case to determine whether they had any knowledge of Banon’s allegations.

One issue is whether her allegations against Strauss-Kahn amount to attempted rape or sexual assault. In France the statute of limitations for sexual assault cases is three years, versus ten years for attempted rape.

Reporting by Nicolas Bertin and Thierry Leveque; Writing by Nick Vinocur; Editing by Peter Graff

Katsav cops plea in sex charges

His reputation in shambles from a sex scandal that broke a year ago and swelled in subsequent months, Israel’s outgoing president, Moshe Katsav, put an end to the sordid chapter by agreeing to a plea bargain after months of insisting he was innocent.

His reputation in shambles from a sex scandal that broke a year ago and swelled in subsequent months, Katsav put an end to the sordid chapter by agreeing to a plea bargain after months of insisting he was innocent.

Under the deal announced Thursday, President Moshe Katsav will plead guilty to sexually harassing and molesting female staff in exchange for prosecutors’ agreement not to pursue rape charges against him. He will resign early, receive a suspended prison sentence and pay compensation to the complainants.

This marks the first time an Israeli head of state has been convicted of sexual misconduct – — a legacy many hope soon will be forgotten after Shimon Peres takes over the presidency July 15.

For much of this year, Katsav was on a leave of absence and Knesset Speaker Dalia Itzik served as acting president.

“Israel’s ‘No. 1 citizen’ has become a convicted sexual offender,” Attorney General Menachem Mazuz told reporters. “The shame will accompany him forever.”

The deal was deplored by women’s rights groups and others who saw the plea bargain as an easy pass for a member of Israel’s political elite, the latest in a long string of lenient convictions and sentences for a corrupt Israeli leadership.

The attorney for the employee of the president’s residence who had accused Katsav of rape, known as Complainant A, petitioned Israel’s High Court of Justice on Thursday in an effort to block the plea deal, but her request was denied.

“The attorney general gave in to pressure, and the prosecutor forfeited the doing of justice because we’re talking about the president,” attorney Kinneret Barashi told reporters. “This is a black day. At issue is a complainant who told her truth, in which she believes. Along with her I will fight by all means in order to change this decision and bring justice to light. I have a great deal to say, and the last word has yet to be said.”

Mazuz said the State Attorney’s Office entered the plea bargain because it saw difficulties in proving the toughest allegations, some of them dating back years.

“A confession by the president is no trivial matter,” Mazuz said, defending the agreement.

But the Association of Rape Crisis Centers said in a statement in response, “The plea bargain sends a clear message to sexual assault victims: Better to stay quiet, better not to tell. In the State of Israel, there is no one to safeguard the victims of sexual assault.”

When Mazuz’s office first said in January that it was considering a rape indictment, Katsav took a leave of absence but angrily denied wrongdoing. In a raucous speech in which the president clearly lost his temper, Katsav spoke of himself as the victim of a “witch hunt” targeting successful members of Israel’s Sephardi underclass.