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Prosecutors drop attempted rape complaint against former IMF chief

By the CNN Wire Staff
updated 12:19 PM EDT, Thu October 13, 2011
Dominique Strauss-Kahn travels to his lawyer's offices to be questioned by police on September 12, in Paris, France.
Dominique Strauss-Kahn travels to his lawyer's offices to be questioned by police on September 12, in Paris, France.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: Her attorney says the woman is "between disappointment and joy"
  • There is insufficient evidence to file charges, prosecutors say
  • Strauss-Kahn admitted to "sexual aggression"

Paris (CNN) -- After investigating a complaint filed against former International Monetary Fund head Dominique Strauss-Kahn, in which a journalist accused him of attempting to rape her in 2003, French prosecutors said there was a lack of sufficient evidence to file charges.

Strauss-Kahn admitted to "sexual aggression" against Tristane Banon at the time, but a three-year statute of limitations applies in the case, the Paris prosecutor's office said in a statement Thursday.

Strauss-Kahn, who recently returned to France after sexual assault charges against him in New York were dropped by prosecutors, was questioned by Paris police last month, along with Banon. In a two-and-a-half hour session, both were asked questions by police without their lawyers present.

Banon's attorney, David Koubbi, said after learning of prosecutors' decision that his client "is between disappointment and joy."

"It was truth against lies," Koubbi said. "Tristane Banon never lied, but Dominique Strauss-Kahn has lied."

He said Banon, now 32, does not have any regrets. "There have been pressures and legitimate fears," he said. "She has done nothing wrong."

Anne Mansouret, Banon's mother, said in May her daughter interviewed Strauss-Kahn in his office in the National Assembly in 2003, but he contacted her later and asked if he could speak with her again, sending her an address.

Banon went to the address, where Strauss-Kahn then locked the door to the room they were in, took her hand and grabbed her arm, according to Mansouret.

Banon told him to let her go, and the incident ended with the two struggling on the floor, Mansouret said. Banon managed to escape the apartment and locked herself in her car outside, calling her mother. Mansouret said she arrived about an hour and a half later to find her daughter still locked in the car and looking "roughed up." The heel of one shoe was broken, Mansouret recalled to CNN.

But Mansouret told her daughter not to file a complaint out of concern she would become known as Strauss-Kahn's victim. Banon spoke out after charges were filed in New York against Strauss-Kahn.

Strauss-Kahn initially was accused of assaulting a hotel housekeeper in New York, but the charges were dropped after questions were raised about the credibility of his accuser, Nafissatou Diallo. His arrest, in which he was pulled off a Paris-bound plane, led to his resignation as IMF head. Diallo filed suit against Strauss-Kahn in civil court as prosecutors prepared to dismiss the case.

"We have supported and believe that Ms. Banon was sexually assaulted by Mr. Strauss-Kahn and are pleased that the prosecutors in Paris, as has been reported, have found evidence supporting a sexual assault," Douglas Widor, attorney for Diallo, said in a statement. "Unfortunately, however, in dismissing her case, the prosecutors in Paris must have felt emboldened by the failure of the Manhattan district attorney to hold Mr. Strauss-Kahn accountable for his actions -- which we look forward to doing in our civil case, despite his desperate attempt to now invoke diplomatic immunity."

Strauss-Kahn's attorneys last month asked a judge to dismiss Diallo's suit, claiming that as head of the IMF he had the same protections as diplomats. U.S. courts recognize those protections as "customary international law" even though the United States has not signed the United Nations convention specifically including IMF officials, they wrote in court documents.

Strauss-Kahn has also sued Banon, alleging slander. In an interview with French television station TF1 last month, Strauss-Kahn said he had met with Banon recently and, "I said the truth to her in this meeting. There was no act of aggression, there was no violence ... The version that was presented was imaginary."

Once considered a leading candidate for the French presidential election, Strauss-Kahn also said in the interview that the New York incident was "not only an inappropriate relationship, but more than that -- an error, a mistake, a mistake concerning my wife, my children, my friends, but also a mistake that the French people placed their hope in change on me."

Banon published a book Thursday in which she describes the way her life changed after Strauss-Kahn's arrest in New York. She never mentions him by name in the book "Le Bal des Hypocrites" or "The Hypocrites' Ball," but refers to him 15 times as "the baboon" or "the pig."

Although she does not specifically identify him, she leaves little doubt as to who "the baboon" might be, recounting in the book waking up at 3 a.m. on May 15 to the news "the baboon man" was arrested.

"He will no longer harm," she wrote. "He tried to hurt one too many in New York."

She describes the media frenzy that surrounded her, including endless phone calls and text messages from journalists worldwide. She reprints 29 e-mails in the book that she received from French and foreign journalists.

She also describes her reasons for taking her time to decide whether to press charges against Strauss-Kahn.

CNN's Pierre Meilhan and journalist Saskya Vandoorne contributed to this report.

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