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Strauss-Kahn files counterclaim against French writer

By the CNN Wire Staff
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New Strauss-Kahn rape complaint
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Lawyer for French journalist says he will file a criminal complaint over 2003 incident
  • Banon's mother advised her not to file a complaint for fear it would hurt her career
  • Strauss-Kahn was arrested on an unrelated sex charge, but the case may be crumbling
  • He resigned as head of the International Monetary Fund after the New York charges

Paris (CNN) -- Former International Monetary Fund head Dominique Strauss-Kahn may face new sexual assault charges in France this week, days after charges against him in New York appeared to be on shaky ground.

In anticipation of those new claims, a lawyer in France for the former IMF chief said he had filed a counterclaim against French writer Tristane Banon for "false declarations" after the 32-year-old journalist and writer alleged that Strauss-Kahn assaulted her eight years ago.

Strauss-Kahn's lawyer's filing was announced shortly after Banon's lawyer, David Koubbi, said he will file the criminal complaint Tuesday with prosecutors, who will determine if there is enough evidence to file charges.

The legal fireworks came days after questions arose about the truthfulness of a housekeeper who alleged that Strauss-Kahn tried to rape her in his New York hotel suite in May.

Asked about Banon's allegation, Strauss-Kahn's co-counsel Benjamin Brafman said in New York, "I do not wish to comment."

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Banon's mother, Socialist politician Anne Mansouret, said shortly after the housekeeper's accusations were splashed across front pages around the world that her daughter had been attacked by Strauss-Kahn in 2003 but that she had discouraged her at the time from filing charges against him.

He was never charged in connection with the alleged attack in France on Banon.

Mansouret, a member of parliament, said she cautioned Banon not to file a police report at the time for fear it would hurt her journalism career.

However, in light of the charges against Strauss-Kahn, 62, after the alleged incident at a Sofitel hotel in New York in May, Banon's attorney, Koubbi, said a few weeks ago that he and Banon were considering filing a complaint.

Koubbi said the cases were not connected.

"I don't see any reason why these two cases should be joined, because either the prosecutor has enough elements to condemn Dominique Strauss-Kahn in the United States -- and if he does, he should do it -- or he needs to bring two cases together to get a conviction," he said in June.

"In that case, we do not want to participate," he added.

Strauss-Kahn's attorney in France, Leon Lef Forster, did not respond to requests for comment on the allegations in May.

Mansouret described herself last week as "the woman who embarrasses the Socialist Party."

"I am ... a sort of collateral damage in the DSK affair. I knew for a long time that my political career was sealed with this bomb, but I didn't imagine that this bitter past could be revived so violently," she wrote July 1 on the Rue89 website, referring to the alleged attack in New York.

Mansouret recently pulled out of the Socialist Party presidential primaries. Strauss-Kahn had been a front-runner for the party nomination until the New York arrest, and suggestions that the case was foundering have revived talk of his chances in next year's presidential elections.

Mansouret said in May that, in 2003, her journalist daughter had interviewed Strauss-Kahn in his office in the National Assembly.

However, after the interview, Banon received a text message from Strauss-Kahn, saying he was not happy with the interview and asking if he could speak with her again, Mansouret said.

After Banon arrived at the address Strauss-Kahn had sent her, he 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, where she called 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.

But Mansouret told her daughter not to file a complaint out of concern that she would become known as Strauss-Kahn's victim.

CNN does not typically identify sexual assault victims, but Mansouret said her daughter gave permission for her name to be disclosed.

In New York, the prosecutor's case against Strauss-Kahn has been shaken in recent days after sources revealed that the housekeeper at the Sofitel hotel had been less than truthful with investigators. Within two days after the alleged attack occurred, she spoke by phone with a boyfriend in an Arizona jail in a recorded conversation.

A source with knowledge of the investigation told CNN that she said that "she's fine and this person is rich and there's money to be made," as originally reported by The New York Times.

The source also said the alleged victim had bank accounts in multiple states. "She was getting deposits of several thousands of dollars at a time from people she knew, potentially involved in drug dealing," the source said.

The 32-year-old immigrant has admitted to prosecutors that she lied about her whereabouts following the alleged attack, the details of an asylum application and information she put on tax forms, according to documents filed in court Friday by prosecutors.

Prosecutors said Friday that the woman also admitted to lying about being a victim of a gang rape.

In angry remarks delivered outside the courthouse, the woman's attorney, Kenneth Thompson, acknowledged problems with his client's credibility, but the bottom line, he said, is that she was attacked. "That was true the day it happened, and it is true today," he said.

"She has described that sexual assault many times to the prosecutors and to me. And she has never once changed a single thing about that account."

The indictment and charges -- including criminal sexual acts and sexual abuse -- still stand. And, though Stauss-Kahn is now free to travel in the United States, the judge said authorities has continued to withhold the French financier's passport.

CNN's Jim Bittermann, Susan Candiotti and Saskya Vandoorne contributed to this report.

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