Four years after sexual assault charges brought down the former head of the International Monetary Fund, Dominique Strauss-Kahn is back in court today, facing charges related to orgies, swinger parties and the alleged owner of a Belgian brothel who is referred to as "Dodo The Pimp."
Along with 13 others, including “Dodo la Saumure” -- la Saumure being slang for pimp -- Strauss-Kahn, 65, will stand trial for “aggravated pimping as part of a group,” for his alleged involvement in the so-called "Carlton Affair” prostitution ring. The case has all the trappings of a salacious political thriller, and the name refers to a hotel in the French city of Lille, where, allegedly, some of the orgies took place.
While paying for sex is not illegal in France, Strauss-Kahn is accused of using his high-level contacts to hire hookers for sex parties in Paris, Washington and Lille, which is a crime. DSK, as he’s known in France, arrived in the Lille courthouse Monday.
What’s at Stake
Christopher Mesnooh, a lawyer for Field Fisher Waterhouse law firm, described the charges to the Associated Press: "On the basic charge, which is being brought against the majority of defendants, which is aggravated pimping, French law provides for maximum punishment of 10 years in prison and a fine of 1.5 million euros. For the lesser charges, which can be characterized generically as corruption charges, the fines go to upwards of 400,000 euros and potential prison terms of three to five years.”
Distinguishing Naked Women and Naked Prostitutes
According to the BBC, Strauss-Kahn's lawyers say DSK doesn’t deny attending the “libertine” parties but he maintains he did not know the women were prostitutes.
The allegations first emerged in 2011, and Henri Leclerc, one of DSK’s lawyers reportedly told French radio Europe 1 that, “[DSK] could easily not have known, because as you can imagine, at these kinds of parties you're not always dressed, and I challenge you to distinguish a naked prostitute from any other naked woman.”
Henri Leclerc, one of Strauss-Kahn’s lawyers, told the Financial Times that the charges are “dangerous and malicious insinuations and extrapolations” and are “based on an ideological and moral analysis, but certainly not on any legal grounds."
Mesnooh, the lawyer for Field Fisher Waterhouse law firm, told the AP that “anonymous tips were delivered to the French police in very early 2011, January-February, and so this has actually been an investigation that pre-dates [Strauss-Kahn's additional legal troubles in] New York."
The Original Fall From Grace
In New York in 2011, the world witnessed the former French presidential hopeful's fall from grace after he was plucked from an Air France first-class cabin as he was about to depart from John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York and arrested for allegedly assaulting Nafissatou Diallo, a maid at New York’s Times Square Sofitel hotel. The initial charges were dropped after prosecutors said Diallo gave unreliable accounts of what took place during the alleged incident. Since then, two other cases against Strauss-Kahn have been dropped concerning allegations of sexual assault and gang rape.