Dominique Strauss-Kahn was released on a bail of €100,000 ($133,500) after a preliminary hearing was held on his alleged involvement in a prostitution ring on Monday.
After a close-door meeting with judges in the northern city of Lille, the former International Monetary Fund chief was charged with aggravated pimping -- stemming from an investigation of prostitutes being brought from Belgium to Lille's Carlton Hotel.
The three investigating judges in Lille in charge of the so-called Carlton affair have charged Mr. Dominique Strauss-Kahn with aggravated organized procurement of prostitutes, prosecutors said in a statement Monday night.
During Monday's hearing, the judges ruled Strauss-Kahn isn't allowed to communicate with the eight other defendants associated with the Lille prostitution ring,
Pimping is defined under French law as an act by anyone and by whatever means of helping, assisting or protecting the prostitution of others.
Strauss-Kahn, 62, has denied the charges, claiming he wasn't aware the girls allegedly flown from southern France to Washington and other places for his entertainment were prostitutes. Prostitution isn't a crime in France, but procuring prostitutes for someone else is a crime. Authorities are also investigating whether corporate funds were used to pay for the women.
He is not guilty of any of these deeds and never had the least awareness that the women he met could have been prostitutes, Richard Malka, one of his lawyers, told reporters while leaving the court house.
If found guilty, Strauss-Kahn faces a maximum of 20 years in prison and fines of up to €3 million ($4 million).
While the prostitution investigation is only in its nascent stages, Strauss-Kahn is already feeling the repercussions of his alleged actions. The reputation of the man once considered to be the leading candidate for the French presidency was significantly -- but not irreparably -- damaged after the sexual assault trial involving a hotel chambermaid in New York last year. The charges were eventually dropped, but the scandal cost him his job as the head of the IMF.
With the latest sexual scandal comes fresh damage to his career and reputation. His political future already gone, the prostitution allegations may limit other employment opportunities. Indeed, Strauss-Kahn already lost one job because of it -- a speaking appearance at a European Parliament debate on Tuesday, which was canceled because members considered it indecent.
If the charges are truly unhealthy, sensationalist and not without a political agenda, as Strauss-Kahn's lawyers claimed, then the conspiracy is working; political allies are distancing themselves from the former French finance minister. With less than one month before France's presidential elections, François Hollande, the candidate for Strauss-Khan's Socialist party and the current front-runner, is keeping his distance for fear that an association with the tainted figure will hurt his chances.
The page has turned. I have no comment to make today, Socialist party leader Martine Aubry said, according to the Telegraph.