´Not guilty´

Ex-IMF chief Strauss-Kahn pleads not guilty in sex assault

Attorneys for Dominique Strauss-Kahn and the Manhattan hotel maid he´s accused of sexually attacking gave clashing accounts of the incident Monday after the former International Monetary Fund chief pleaded not guilty at a court arraignment.

By the conclusion of the internationally watched case, "it will be clear that there was no element of forcible compulsion in this case whatsoever," defense lawyer Ben Brafman said outside Manhattan Supreme Court, hinting that Strauss-Kahn´s legal team may argue the encounter was consensual. "Any suggestion to the contrary is simply not credible."

However, Kenneth Thompson, the lawyer for the 32-year-old African immigrant who told police Strauss-Kahn forced her to perform oral sex in a May 14 attack at the Sofitel New York, said the woman told the truth and would do so again at trial.

"The victim wants you to know that all of Dominique Strauss-Kahn´s power, money and influence throughout the world will not keep the truth about what he did to her in that hotel room from coming out," Thompson said.

The arguments came after Strauss-Kahn, a 62-year-old French politician, appeared in court for the first time since his release last month on bail of $6m in cash and bond.

Indicating he understood the charges against him and knew his right to attend court hearings in the case, Strauss-Kahn stood between Brafman and fellow defense lawyer William Taylor and said "not guilty" in a firm voice. Prosecutors said Strauss-Kahn legally may be tried in absentia if he fails to appear when required.

Dressed in a dark suit and tie, Strauss-Kahn conferred with defense lawyers, who asked Manhattan Supreme Court justice Michael Obus for a six-week adjournment to study the prosecution´s evidence and prepare legal motions.

The Manhattan District attorney´s office consented, and Obus set Strauss-Kahn´s next court date for July 18.

Obus also continued the existing bail restrictions, enabling Strauss-Kahn to remain under the 24-hour watch of armed private security guards at a rented luxury townhouse in Manhattan´s Tribeca area.

Strauss-Kahn´s wife, French journalist and celebrity Anne Sinclair, sat silently in the courtroom´s first row during the five-minute hearing.

(Published by USA Today - June 7, 2011)

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