Dominique Strauss-Kahn, head of the International Monetary Fund, is arraigned...

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, head of the International Monetary Fund, is arraigned at Manhattan Criminal Court. (May 16, 2011) Credit: AP

A judge ordered the head of the International Monetary Fund held without bail Monday on charges he sexually assaulted a maid in his Manhattan hotel suite.

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, who had been considered a serious challenger in 2012 to French president Nicolas Sarkozy, was sent to jail on Rikers Island.

The attorney for Strauss-Kahn, Benjamin Brafman, made an impassioned plea for a $1 million bail, but Criminal Court Judge Melissa Jackson said the 62-year-old, held in protective custody, was a flight risk. He was being held in an 11-by-13 cell.

His next court date is Friday.

"We are obviously disappointed by the court's decision," Brafman said. "We believe this case is very defensible."

During the appearance, assistant district attorney John McConnell said investigators were looking into other allegations that Strauss-Kahn was involved in additional sex abuse cases. McConnell didn't elaborate. He noted the United States had no extradition treaty with France.

In addition, NYPD detectives were gathering surveillance tapes and other evidence from the Manhattan Sofitel hotel to help bolster their case against the international financier.

The shock of the arrest has been especially brutal for France's Socialists, a party plagued by dissent in recent years that increasingly seemed to solidify around the possibility that Strauss-Kahn could return them to power, The Associated Press reported, noting that Strauss-Kahn has led the polls for months as the favored candidate to win the 2012 presidential race.

Strauss-Kahn looked tired and sullen during his nearly 30-minute-long appearance in Manhattan Criminal Court and was dressed in an open-necked blue shirt and wore a dark coat. He said nothing as he learned that he had been formally charged in a criminal complaint with attempted rape, sexual abuse and other charges stemming from an incident over the weekend that allegedly involved a 32-year-old Sofitel maid. He could face up to 25 years in prison if convicted on the most serious criminal sex charge.

The complaint charged that at around noon Saturday, Strauss-Kahn attacked the maid, grabbing her breast, trying to pull down her pantyhose and tried to force her to perform oral sex on him.

A law enforcement official who asked not to be identified said the maid had entered the foyer of Strauss-Kahn's suite thinking it was unoccupied, left the suite door ajar and called out to check if anyone was inside. After the maid opened the closed bedroom door and encountered a naked Strauss-Kahn, she excused herself and backed away in the foyer where she was allegedly accosted by him, the official said. After closing the suite door, Strauss-Kahn allegedly attacked the maid, pulling her into the bathroom, the official said.

The maid escaped and told her supervisors about the attack, at which point the NYPD was called. By the time detectives located Strauss-Kahn he was on Air France Flight 23, slated to take off around 5 p.m. Police then pulled Strauss-Kahn off the plane 10 minutes before departure.

During his time at the special victims unit in Harlem, Strauss-Kahn, who could plunk down $35 for filet mignon at the Sofitel, was given eggs, toast and home fries by the officers, which costs less than $5, officials said.

In court, Brafman denied that Strauss-Kahn tried to flee the hotel, saying the flight was booked "long before this incident" and that he rushed out to keep a luncheon date with a German official.

With Emily Ngo

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