- Prosecutors are working to determine whether an investigation should be opened
- A French newspaper details accusations of gang rape made against the former IMF chief
- Through his attorneys, Strauss-Kahn denies the allegations in a statement to the French press
French prosecutors said Friday they are considering widening an investigation into former IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn's alleged participation in a prostitution ring.
The prosecutor's office in Lille told CNN that investigating judges had drafted a preliminary order concerning allegations of gang rape made against Strauss-Kahn. The order had been sent to the prosecution on March 30.
"Currently the prosecutor is analyzing the order to decide whether to close the matter or open a preliminary investigation into the allegations," the prosecutor's office said.
The French newspaper Liberation reported Friday that the allegations stemmed from statements made by two women it describes as "escort girls," who were interviewed by Belgian police as part of an investigation into a prostitution ring run out of the Carlton Hotel in Lille, near France's border with Belgium.
According to the newspaper's account of the depositions, the women said they had accompanied two associates of Strauss-Kahn on a visit to Washington in December 2010, where they had stayed at the W Hotel. One of them alleged that Strauss-Kahn had used force against her during a sexual encounter at the hotel, despite her protests.
The newspaper did not specify how it obtained the statements. CNN could not independently confirm the report.
The Metropolitan Police Department in Washington said no sexual assault at the hotel was reported at that time.
Strauss-Kahn's lawyers in Lille and New York both declined to comment on the Liberation report when reached by CNN.
In a statement issued by his attorneys to Agence France Presse, Strauss-Kahn denied the allegations.
Strauss-Kahn "absolutely contests having committed the slightest act of violence of any nature whatsoever," his lawyers Henri Leclerc, Frederique Baulieu and Richard Malka said.
"The declarations made by these young women are contradictory," the statement said. Strauss Kahn's statement also said the women's testimony had been disclosed at an "opportune time," just before the final round of the French presidential election.
The prostitution investigation continues a string of sexual allegations against Strauss-Kahn. He has not been convicted of a crime.
Strauss-Kahn has been formally warned by French authorities that he is under investigation for "aggravated pimping" in connection with the prostitution investigation and has been released on 100,000-euro bail. He has pushed back against the accusations, saying he did not know young women at parties he attended were being paid for sex.
One of the sex scandals torpedoed his expected run for the French presidency this year. He stepped down from the top job at the International Monetary Fund after the May 2011 incident, in which a New York hotel maid accused him of sexual assault and attempted rape in May. He denied the accusation.
The case ultimately fell apart after prosecutors decided they could not be sure about the credibility of the alleged victim, despite forensic evidence that showed a sexual encounter had occurred.
The maid, Nafissatou Diallo, has since launched a civil action against the former IMF chief, alleging a "sadistic assault." This week a judge in New York rejected Strauss-Kahn's claim of diplomatic immunity.
Reacting to the latest allegations emerging from France, Diallo's attorney Douglas Wigdor said Friday that they demonstrated "that the Manhattan district attorney should not have dismissed the indictment and should have investigated (Strauss-Kahn's) pattern of conduct towards women."
Strauss-Kahn also faced allegations of attempted rape from a young French writer. Tristane Banon filed a complaint, alleging a 2003 attack, though it could not be pursued because of a statute of limitations.
He denied the allegations and has since filed a countersuit in France, alleging slander.