Sex scandals rarely die and disappear. They’re usually far too salacious, improbable and/or disturbing for that. Which is perhaps why I find myself secretly delighted to see the sexual escapades of former IMF Chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn back in the news.
Remember Strauss-Kahn? He was that very distinguished international statesman whose career came to a screeching halt last May when he was accused of raping a maid - Nafissatou Diallo - at an upscale hotel in New York City. While the criminal case against DSK (as he’s known in his native France) was dismissed last summer due to questions about Ms. Diallo’s veracity, she subsequently brought a civil suit against Mr. Strauss-Kahn for sexual assault.
DSK tried to prevent this civil suit from going forward - pleading diplomatic immunity . But on Tuesday a Bronx Judge ruled against this “Hail Mary” pass on DSK’s part, and will allow the suit to proceed. Among other things, an entirely new set of legal proceedings will require the Frenchman to return to New York for a series of depositions on the initial alleged crime.
In short: Game on.
This case was always fraught with inconsistencies and intrigues, all of which are recounted in journalist Jay Epstein’s new book, Three Days In May. But it is far from Strauss-Kahn’s only headache. He is currently under investigation for his involvement in an international prostitution ring, about which his lawyer famously asked — I’m paraphrasing here — how he could possibly have known they were prostitutes since they were naked. (Note to self: next time I wish not to implicate myself in anything criminal, remove all clothing.)
He’s also the fictionalized protagonist of a new novel, The Hypocrite’s Ball, by French journalist Tristane Banon, who alleges that DSK tried to rape her during an interview in 2003. The novel recounts the episode in some detail, comparing the DSK-like character at one point to a “baboon.” And at a recent speech at Cambridge University’s prestigious Cambridge Union, DSK was met by angry protesters who felt that his invitation to speak there legitimized sexual violence.
What’s curious about DSK has been his manner throughout this ordeal. He isn’t self-righteous, like Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, in the wake of his own allegations of sexual assault and attempted rape in Sweden. Nor has he struck a repentant tone like former New York Governor Elliot Spitzer did in the aftermath of his own prostitution scandal. And Strauss-Kahn certainly bears no resemblance to Silvio Berlusconi, who seems – still — to be winking at us all even as he undergoes a trial for allegedly paying an under-age girl to have sex with him.
Instead, Strauss-Kahn projects an image of the bewildered statesman. It’s as if he really can’t imagine why this whole sordid tale continues to dog him. He blames it all on a conspiracy to discredit him as the Socialist candidate for the French presidency on the part of President Nicolas Sarkozy’s Center-Right UMP party. And as he confessed to Epstein in a recent interview in The Guardian , he still hopes to return to public life.
Maybe it was a conspiracy; maybe it wasn’t. Hopefully, the evidence uncovered in the forthcoming civil trial will answer some of the questions that have swirled around this case from its inception. Then we can all find out what really happened during those crucial six or seven minutes in a hotel room one year ago.
In the meantime, a movie about the whole affair, starring Gerard Depardieu and Isabel Adjani, is already under contract.
And I, for one, can’t wait.