More than a fifth of all France – a record-setting 13.4 million viewers — tuned in Sunday to see Dominique Strauss-Kahn, who was a favorite to become the next president of France, perform his Clintonesque mea culpas on national TV.
Strauss-Kahn, 62, claimed he was innocent of raping maid Nafissatou Diallo, 32, in his luxury suite at New York’s Sofitel May 14, and of trying to rape a young French journalist, Tristane Banon, during an interview in 2003.
Strauss-Kahn told his interviewer, Claire Chazal, a friend of his wealthy wife, that while he was guilty of a “moral failing of which I am not proud” in the Diallo case, “what happened involved neither violence nor constraint.” He also suggested that he may have been the victim of a “trap.”
Feminists, who protested outside the television station, TF1, and other critics derided the interview. Strauss-Kahn did not explain “how he was able to convince a woman who had never seen him before in her life to engage in sexual acts with him,” nor how his semen wound up on her clothing, Kenneth Thompson, a lawyer for Diallo, said on French 24. Thompson said he looked forward to cross-examining Strauss-Kahn in the civil case Diallo has brought against the former head of the International Monetary Fund.
Banon told Canal Plus television it “hurt” to watch her attacker on television and said she, too, will sue Strauss-Kahn if French authorities drop charges against him in the 2003 incident. The Manhattan district attorney dropped charges against Strauss-Kahn in August after deciding the Guinean maid had credibility issues.