Dominique Strauss-Kahn resigned late Wednesday as head of the International Monetary Fund after explosive accusations that he had sexually attacked a housekeeper in a Midtown Manhattan hotel room.
In a statement released by the Fund in the early hours of Thursday morning, Mr Strauss-Kahn said he needed to “devote all my strength, all my time, and all my energy to proving my innocence”.
A statement circulated by the Fund said that Mr Strauss-Kahn had resigned with immediate effect in a letter sent to members of its executive board on Wednesday. “It is with infinite sadness that I feel compelled today to present to the Executive Board my resignation from my post of Managing Director of the IMF,” he said.
“I think at this time first of my wife – whom I love more than anything – of my children, of my family, of my friends. I think also of my colleagues at the Fund; together we have accomplished such great things over the last three years and more.”
“To all, I want to say that I deny with the greatest possible firmness all of the allegations that have been made against me. I want to protect this institution which I have served with honor and devotion, and especially – especially – I want to devote all my strength, all my time, and all my energy to proving my innocence.”
His troubles began about 4:30 p.m. Saturday, when officers took him from the first-class cabin of an Air France flight bound for Paris for questioning in connection with an alleged sexual assault in the Sofitel hotel.
He is being held at Rikers Island prison after being formally charged with seven crimes related to the alleged assault of a 32-year-old Guinean maid in his suite at the Sofitel earlier that day, including attempted rape and an illegal sexual act.
The maid told police that she entered Strauss-Kahn’s suite to clean it, thinking it was empty, according to Paul J. Browne, deputy New York City police commissioner. The maid told officers that Strauss-Kahn came out of the bathroom naked, pushed her onto the bed and assaulted her. She said he forced her to perform oral sex.
Timothy Geithner, the US Treasury Secretary, said earlier this week that Mr Strauss-Kahn was “obviously not in a position to run” the IMF, while European figures had begun to say the same.
The allegations caused dismay and disbelief among his friends and colleagues in France. Strauss-Kahn, 62, is charged with criminal sexual acts, attempted rape, sexual abuse, unlawful imprisonment and forcible touching. The most serious charge carries a maximum sentence of 25 years in prison.
He is expected to appear in a New York court Thursday afternoon to request bail. Strauss-Kahn’s defense team will argue that he is a “loving husband and father, and a highly regarded diplomat, politician, lawyer, economist and professor, with no criminal record,” according to court papers filed on Wednesday.
He has offered a $1-million bail bond and agreed to be confined to a house in Manhattan owned by his daughter, Camille, 24, and be subject to 24-hour electronic surveillance to allay fears he might flee the country. The court denied him bail during an arraignment hearing on Monday because he was considered a flight risk.
A grand jury is due to inform a judge at Manhattan criminal court on Friday whether there is sufficient evidence to prosecute Strauss-Kahn. His wife, television journalist Anne Sinclair, 62, whom he married in 1991, has flown to New York to support her husband.
Strauss-Kahn’s economic record as managing director of the IMF has been widely praised, although his reputation took a hit in 2008, one year after he took up the post, when he admitted having an affair with a junior colleague. He was forced to apologize for an “error of judgment.” Afterward, Sinclair, his third wife, vowed to stand by him.
John Lipsky, formerly Mr Strauss- Kahn’s deputy, is currently acting managing director, but is leaving the organisation later this year. A permanent successor will be chosen by the executive board, the IMF said in a statement.[via LA Times, NY Times and BBC]