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Attempted rape complaint filed against Strauss-Kahn in France

By the CNN Wire Staff
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New allegations against DSK
  • NEW: Tristane Banon tells L'Express she was fed up with being labelled a liar
  • NEW: The attorney for the accuser in New York said she is suing New York Post for libel
  • A French journalist's lawyer says he filed a criminal complaint over a 2003 incident in France
  • "If I want one day to put an end to this hell of the past eight years, it has to go to court," said Banon

Paris (CNN) -- A French writer filed a criminal complaint Tuesday against embattled former IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn, alleging attempted rape, according to her attorney David Koubbi.

Tristane Banon, 32, filed the new claim just as a separate New York case against the French financier appeared to be on shaky ground.

A Strauss-Kahn lawyer in France said he had filed a counterclaim against Banon for "false declarations."

French prosecutors are expected to review the complaint and determine whether there is enough evidence to press charges.

Though the alleged attack occurred in 2003, the statute of limitations on attempted rape is 10 years.

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In an interview with the French news-magazine L'Express, Banon said she decided to act because she was fed up with being labelled a liar, having not previously filed a criminal complaint.

Banon said Strauss-Kahn's alleged assault had been widely discussed in light of the charges he faces in New York and she now had a chance to tell her own story and be listened to.

"If I want one day to put an end to this hell of the past eight years, it has to go to court," she told the magazine.

Asked about the delay in coming forward to report the attempted rape, Banon said it was difficult for all women in this situation. She added that she had been reluctant to go over and over the details, when all she wanted to do was forget about it.

It was even harder to face that prospect when the she knew that the attempt would likely fail, she told L'Express, because no-one would believe the word of a young writer over a powerful figure like Strauss-Kahn.

Asked if she had concerns about repercussions for bringing the complaint now, Banon told L'Express she feared reprisals because she was a thorn in the side of the former IMF chief

On Tuesday, her attorney told CNN that the alleged attack had taken place with "extreme violence."

The new legal fireworks came after questions arose about the truthfulness of a housekeeper who alleged that Strauss-Kahn, 62, attacked her in his New York hotel suite in May.

Banon said the decision to file the complaint had been taken with her lawyer in mid-June and had not been affected by the sudden crumbling of the case against Strauss-Kahn in New York, according to her interview with L'Express.

One of Strauss-Kahn's lawyers in New York, Benjamin Brafman, on Monday declined to comment on the allegations in France.

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.

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.

On Tuesday, she said she had not realized before how much her daughter was affected by the alleged incident.

"At the time, I never thought that it had traumatized her to such a point," she told CNN affiliate network BFM.

Banon "expects to be destroyed" after filing the complaint against Strauss-Kahn, her mother added.

But she must "find the combative instinct that is needed to withstand the shock and say to herself, 'OK, I must do this and I will carry it out,'" Mansouret said.

Strauss-Kahn was never charged in connection with the alleged attack on Banon.

But in light of the charges against Strauss-Kahn after the alleged incident at a Sofitel hotel in New York, Koubbi said a few weeks ago that he and Banon had considered 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 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 floundering have revived talk of his chances in next year's presidential elections.

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 Friday on the Rue89 website, referring to the alleged attack in New York.

In May, Mansouret said 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 prosecution'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 the housekeeper said "she's fine and this person is rich and there's money to be made," as originally reported by The New York Times.

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," Thompson 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."

On Tuesday, the attorney for the alleged victim's announced that she had filed a libel lawsuit against the New York Post and five of its reporters, after the newspaper reported that the woman was a prostitute.

The woman has accused the newspaper of publishing articles with false and defamatory information in the effort to bolster sales.

A spokeswoman for the New York Post, Suzi Halpin, responded to the lawsuit Tuesday, saying "we stand by our reporting."

Meanwhile, the indictment and charges against Strauss-Kahn -- including criminal sexual acts and sexual abuse -- still stand. And though he is now free to travel in the United States, a judge said authorities have continued to withhold the French financier's passport.

After the charges were filed against him in New York, Strauss-Kahn resigned as director of the International Monetary Fund.

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

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