The criminal case against Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the former International Monetary Fund chief who was accused of sexually assaulting a maid at the Sofitel hotel in Manhattan six weeks ago, continued to unravel Saturday amid deepening questions about the credibility of his accuser.
After the alleged attack, the woman spoke by phone with her boyfriend, a criminal defendant in a drug case in Arizona, and alluded to the fact that Strauss-Kahn was wealthy, according to news reports.
The New York Times, which first reported the recorded conversation, quoted a law enforcement official as saying: “She says words to the effect of, ‘Don’t worry, this guy has a lot of money. I know what I’m doing.’ ”
The revelation followed what prosecutors said were their discoveries that the 32-year-old hotel worker, who is originally from Guinea, lied in her asylum application and made multiple other false statements, including about the sequence of events on the day of the alleged assault.
Because of doubts about the ability of the district attorney to rely on the woman’s testimony, a judge released Strauss-Kahn from house arrest Friday.
Initially denied bail, Strauss-Kahn, 62, was held in Rikers Island for several days after his arrest May 14 before he posted a $6 million bail and bond. He was placed under house arrest, at a $50,000-a-month rented townhouse in Manhattan’s TriBeCa neighborhood.
The townhouse was besieged by reporters Saturday, but Strauss-Kahn did not comment when he left with his wife or when they returned later in the day.
There had been some speculation that the couple would travel to the home they own in Washington, but they appear to have decided, for now, to stay in New York City. Another court hearing is scheduled for July 18.
Outside their Washington home, on a small dead-end street in Georgetown, a few reporters lingered in pop-up chairs in the shady park across the street from the house.
Neighborhood blogger Carol Joynt, who passed by, noticed that a small American flag had been planted in front of the two-story brick house with black shutters.
“I’m not so sure he’s terribly enamored with America right now,” she later mused on her blog.
Authorities continue to hold Strauss-Kahn’s French passport so he cannot leave the United States.
Prosecutors have not moved to have the charges dismissed, but legal experts said the case has been crippled.
The woman’s attorney, however, has insisted that questions about his client’s history, which were provided to the defense in a letter from prosecutors, were irrelevant to the charges of sexual assault.
“The victim here may have made some mistakes, but that doesn’t mean she’s not a rape victim,” attorney Kenneth Thompson said.
Strauss-Kahn was arrested on a Paris-bound Air France flight that was about to leave the gate at John F. Kennedy International Airport. The accuser said the assault took place earlier that day in Strauss-Kahn’s $3,000-a-night suite.
The arrest shocked Strauss-Kahn’s native France, where he was seen as the leading Socialist candidate to challenge French President Nicolas Sarkozy in 2012.
The specter of a disheveled Strauss-Kahn being led in handcuffs from a Manhattan police station led to howls of protest in France about a rush to judgment.
Strauss-Kahn subsequently stepped down as head of the IMF. He was replaced last week by Christine Lagarde, previously the minister of finance in France.
Staff writer Victor Zapana contributed to this report.