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Ex-IMF chief Strauss-Kahn pleads not guilty at arraignment

By the CNN Wire Staff
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Former IMF chief pleads not guilty
  • NEW: Strauss-Kahn is due back in court July 18
  • Strauss-Kahn pleads not guilty to charges in the May 14 incident
  • Strauss-Kahn's lawyer: "We intend to defend this case and defend it vigorously"
  • The hotel worker who accused Strauss-Kahn of sex assault will testify, her lawyer says

New York (CNN) -- Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the former chief of the International Monetary Fund, pleaded not guilty Monday to seven charges involving a May 14 incident in which a housekeeping employee at New York's Sofitel hotel accused him of sexual assault.

Strauss-Kahn, who was considered a front-runner in France's next presidential race before his arrest, faces charges including criminal sexual acts and sexual abuse.

His attorney, Ben Brafman, declined to comment on details of the case in a brief statement to reporters outside the courtroom following the plea.

"We intend to defend this case and defend it vigorously, but we are going to do so in the courtroom," Brafman said, renewing earlier statements that evidence in the case will reveal his client is innocent.

According to New York police, the alleged attack happened soon after the housekeeper entered Strauss-Kahn's suite to clean it.

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Strauss-Kahn allegedly emerged naked from a room, ran down a hallway, shut a door to prevent the woman from leaving and attacked her, according to police and prosecutors.

According to court documents and prosecutors, Strauss-Kahn grabbed the woman's chest, tried to take off her pantyhose and forcibly grabbed her between her legs.

The criminal complaint against Strauss-Kahn alleges that he forced the woman to engage "in oral sexual conduct and anal sexual conduct" and tried to force her to engage in sexual intercourse.

The next court date for Strauss-Kahn is July 18, according to Erin Duggan of the district attorney's office. No date for a trial has been set, Duggan said.

The alleged victim, who has not returned to work, intends to testify against Strauss-Kahn, said her attorney, Ken Thompson.

"She is going to come into this courthouse, get on that witness stand and tell the world what Dominique Strauss did to her," Thompson said.

He declined to discuss specifics of any possible settlement negotiations with Strauss-Kahn, saying his focus is preserving the good name of his client.

She was described by a former attorney as a 32-year-old single mother living in the New York borough of the Bronx who moved to the United States from the West African country of Guinea.

At the hearing, defense lawyers formally requested that Manhattan prosecutors provide discovery materials -- copies of scientific reports as well as police reports and formal statements made by the hotel employee.

Prosecutors have not yet turned over the information to defense attorneys, Duggan said.

The defense has said that some of that information has already been leaked to the media.

"Our client's right to a fair trial is being compromised by the public disclosure of prejudicial material even before these materials have been disclosed to counsel," Strauss-Kahn's attorneys wrote prior to the hearing in a letter to the judge presiding over the case.

They said if they chose to, they could "release substantial information that in our view would seriously undermine the quality of this prosecution and also gravely undermine the credibility of the complainant in this case."

In response, Manhattan Assistant District Attorney Joan Illuzzi-Orbon wrote in a letter that the request for the materials would be addressed if the request was made in writing.

Illuzzi-Orbon told the defense she agreed with the need to safeguard information from leaks, but was "troubled that you chose to inject into the public record your claim that you possess information that might negatively impact the case and 'gravely' undermine the credibility of the victim."

If the defense does possess such information, it should be forwarded to prosecutors, she said.

Strauss-Kahn was released from jail on bond, but is under house arrest in a luxury townhouse in New York's Tribeca neighborhood, according to a source with knowledge of his whereabouts.

He is under court-ordered watch as part of the terms of his $6 million bail agreement, and must pay for 24-hour armed guards posted at the door, as well as electronic surveillance.

CNN's Adam Reiss, Ross Levitt and Susan Candiotti contributed to this report.

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