The Paris prosecutor's office said on Friday it had opened a preliminary inquiry into a complaint filed by French writer Tristane Banon alleging an attempted rape by former IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn in 2003.
David Koubbi, Banon's attorney, filed the complaint earlier this week over an incident Banon alleges took place when she went to interview Strauss-Kahn in an otherwise empty Paris apartment when she was in her early twenties, a Reuters report said.
Banon, born to a Socialist party politician in a wealthy French suburb, has family ties with the family. She is the goddaugher of Strauss-Kahn's second wife, Brigitte Guillemette and is close in age to Strauss-Kahn's daughter, Camille. It was Banon's mother, Anne Mansouret, the Socialist vice-president of the general council of Eure, who discouraged her daughter from pressing charges against the family friend initially.
Mansouret has since said she regrets the advice, which she claims she gave to protect her daughter from scandal and because she believed the behavior to be so out of character for Strauss-Kahn. Today I am sorry to have discouraged my daughter from complaining. I bear a heavy responsibility, she told journalists earlier this week.
However, it's not too late. The statute of limitations on attempted rape in France is ten years. Banon also might have been inspired by the doubt cast on Strauss-Kahn in light of the chambermaid's accusations. When explaining why she waited so long to press charges in an interview with the French magazine L'Express, Banon expressed concerns that her credibility would be doubted. It is even harder when you know in advance that it is doomed to fail, she said.
Banon also said that she just wanted to forget about the incident and move on, a task that has likely been made more difficult with her accused attacker's name in newspaper headlines all over the world.
I know that half will believe me, the others not, she says in the L'Express interview, translated by the New York Times. There is no good solution, only one that means I can finally look at myself in the mirror. For once, I want to be in control of what happens. I want people to listen to me, because I have, perhaps, finally, a chance to be heard.
Banon's lawyer, David Koubbi, has been promising that formal charges would be brought against DSK for months. Strauss-Kahn denied the accusations in an interview in March - two months before the chambermaid scandal - for a biography meant to coincide with a possible Presidential bid. The scene she recounts is imaginary. Do you see me throwing a woman on the floor and being violent, as she claims it?
Ironically, the alleged assault took place during a follow-up discussion - at the request of Strauss-Kahn - for Banon's 2003 essay collection Erreurs avouées ...(au masculine), which roughly translates to Confessed Errors...the masculine way, and was about the biggest mistakes of political figures.