A law enforcement official said Dominique Strauss-Kahn, head of the International Monetary Fund, was taken into police custody after being removed from an airplane at Kennedy Airport.
According to the official, Mr. Strauss-Kahn allegedly forced a cleaning woman onto his bed and sexually assaulted her at around 1 p.m. Saturday inside his room at the Sofitel Hotel near Times Square.
Mr. Strauss-Kahn allegedly allowed the woman to leave then departed for the airport, the official said.
Two detectives from the Port Authority Police Department removed Mr. Strauss-Kahn from the first-class section of a Paris-bound Air France flight minutes before the crew closed the door, a spokesman for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey said.
The arrest of International Monetary Fund chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn on sexual-assault charges threatened to upend French politics and weaken the IMF’s central role in resolving Europe’s deepening debt crisis.
Mr. Strauss-Kahn, 62 years old, was expected to be arraigned Sunday night on charges of attempted rape, criminal sexual assault and unlawful imprisonment of a maid in the New York City hotel where he was staying, police said. Mr. Strauss-Kahn retained prominent defense attorney Benjamin Brafman, whose clients have included singer Michael Jackson and rapper Sean Combs. Mr. Brafman said Mr. Strauss-Kahn would plead not guilty.
The arrest of Mr. Strauss-Kahn, 62 years old, comes at a pivotal time for the fund. John Lipsky, Mr. Strauss-Kahn”s deputy, said last week that he is resigning in August. Mr Lipsky, the Deputy Managing Director, helped Mr Strauss-Kahn usher the fund through the global financial crisis. He has agreed to stay on as a consultant through November.
A key moment came, police said, when Mr. Strauss-Kahn called the hotel to ask if he had left his cellphone there.
A hotel security official fibbed and said he did have the phone—then asked for Mr. Strauss-Kahn’s location to meet him and return it. Police made the arrest at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport, where Mr. Strauss-Kahn had boarded a flight for France.
The arrest could change the course of France’s presidential elections next year
Mr. Strauss-Kahn hasn’t declared his intentions regarding the presidential race, but if planning a run, he must register his candidacy in France before mid-July.
Mr. Strauss-Kahn had been widely expected to leave the IMF soon to enter the race as the leading Socialist Party candidate, and was running ahead of President Nicolas Sarkozy in recent polls.
Mr. Strauss-Kahn’s wife, Anne Sinclair, a prominent French journalist, said she didn’t believe any of the accusations against her husband. In a statement, she said she had no doubt that "he will be proved innocent."
Mr. Strauss-Kahn had been seen as a strong leader in responding to the Continent’s debt crisis. He has supported Greece’s bailout, even in the face of growing doubts about the Greek government’s ability and resolve to meet the commitments of the aid package. He was expected to urge European governments to commit more money to bail out Greece as a condition for further IMF support for the nation.
Police said a cleaning woman accused Mr. Strauss-Kahn of sexually assaulting her in the Sofitel Hotel near Times Square. The alleged victim said she entered room 2806, a $3,000-a-night luxury suite, around 12 p.m. on Saturday to clean it, thinking it was empty, according to a law-enforcement official with knowledge of the case.
According to the narrative she gave investigators, Mr. Strauss-Kahn emerged from the bathroom nude and approached her from behind and touched her breast, then threw her on to the bed, the official said.
The arrest threw into question whether Mr. Strauss-Kahn will be forced to resign his IMF slot. In 2008, early in his IMF term, he was investigated by the IMF’s staff for whether he abused his power by having an affair with a female staffer.
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