Shocking New DSK Revelations

Entranced by the Dallas-like soap-opera that the whole Rupert Murdoch/News Corp. affair is becoming? Well, don’t forget we still have the adventures of that old monetary rogue, Dominique Strauss-Kahn (DSK), to follow. But surely the New York City charges are about to be dropped? True, but on the other hand it looks like French authorities are now taking rather seriously the accusation by the journalist Tristane Banon that DSK tried to rape her back in February, 2003, on the occasion of an interview.

Now this affair’s soap-opera credentials have been considerably boosted by surprise testimony arising out of the six hours of interrogation Ms. Banon’s mother, Anne Mansouret, underwent last week. (This is now all over the French press, but all articles point to L’Express, which had the scoop: Affair Banon-DSK: The secrets of Anne Mansouret). Get this: Mme. Mansouret actually had had intimate relations with DSK herself, namely at the Paris offices of the OECD in 2000, when DSK was special counselor to the Secretary General.

She claims it only happened once – it was “consensual but clearly violent/beastly [brutale]” and she had no desire for any repeat – but it is relevant to the case because it is likely to have affected the advice she gave her daughter as to how to proceed when Tristane unexpectedly found herself alone with DSK three years later in a room whose door he had just locked from the inside.

Here’s what happened afterwards, after the fold, as L’Express extracted from Mme. Mansouret’s testimony:

  • After the alleged incident, Tristane was understandably upset and called her mother immediately, who rushed to meet her.
  • Her mother – Mme. Mansouret – then called up her friend, Brigitte Guillemette, ex-wife of DSK – and also Tristane’s godmother! Upon hearing the story, Mme. Guillemette allegedly told Mme. Mansouret that she had been aware of various “incidents” DSK had had with students, but that she never thought he could go so far as what he was alleged to have tried with Tristane Banon.
  • So Ms. Guillemette then called up DSK to confront him with what had happened. He told her that he just couldn’t control himself when he saw Tristane; after all, he had had sexual relations with the mother only a few years before, and he just freaked out in the presence of the daughter. (Péter un câble – literally “to fart a cable” – colorful, but it’s unsure here whether these were DSK’s actual words or the L’Express journalist’s paraphrase).
  • After this, Mme. Guillemette called Tristane’s mother back. She wanted more information about the incident. She also wanted to know whether they intended to file a criminal complaint, and further advised her friend simply to go meet “Dominique” to sort things out that way.

There is no indication that that face-to-face meeting ever occurred. So there was still the question to resolve about whether to file charges against DSK, who at the time was an up-and-coming deputy (i.e. legislator) for the Socialist Party. And that was the problem, because Anne Mansouret was also a Socialist Party official, later to become a high functionary in Normandy.

What to do? She consulted widely with people whose judgment she respected, especially within the Socialist Party. The answers she got were that, although DSK’s deviant behavior was widely-known (one female politician admitted he was “dangerous towards women”), it would be better just to let things lie. This was what she also heard from no less than François Hollande, already then (as now) a Socialist Party leader, with whom she ordinarily would never expect to talk, but who here first sought her out, anxious that she would rock the boat by allowing her daughter to report to the police, and who even offered to call up DSK himself if that would dissuade her from that.

It’s clear, then, why Tristane Banon did not press charges eight years ago. But why is she doing so now? Obviously due to the influence of the New York Sofitel incident, even as that is petering out. But it’s again mainly under the influence of her mother, who claims to finally want to seize this chance to let the world know that Dominique Strauss-Kahn is not some charming French lady’s-man, but rather . . . well, in L’Express’ words, un predateur qui cherche non pas à plaire mais à prendre, se comportant avec l'”obscénité d’un soudard” – “a predator who seeks not to please but to take, behaving with the ‘obscenity of a marauder.'”

*Whew!* Is everything clear?

And if all that is not enough for you, DSK’s daughter Camille has also been drawn into this mess, having been called in for interrogation by detectives yesterday. “Aha,” you may say, “looks like in France they also follow the American practice of rounding up anyone who might have the remotest connection with the accused!” Not really: turns out Camille Strauss-Kahn’s is the daughter by DSK of Brigitte Guillemette*, Tristane’s godmother, and Tristan and Camille were good friends at the time of the alleged rape incident with DSK.

So she might also have some interesting things to say. Stay tuned.

* Why can’t daughters and mothers at least share the same last name in France? I thought it was somewhat of a traditionalist, Catholic society!

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