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Businessman charged in N.Y. hotel assault

Associated Press / June 2, 2011

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NEW YORK — A businessman and former chairman of a major Egyptian bank charged with sexually abusing a housekeeper at a luxury Manhattan hotel is being held on $25,000 bail and has been ordered to hand over his passport because he is considered a flight risk.

Mahmoud Abdel Salam Omar, wearing glasses and a suit, was arraigned just before midnight on Tuesday in Manhattan. Authorities say the businessman, who is in his 70s, attacked a maid at The Pierre hotel, near Central Park and Fifth Avenue on the Upper East Side.

The hotel, meanwhile, suspended the supervisor of housekeeping for not reporting the alleged assault. Omar was arraigned on two counts of sexual abuse and forcible touching.

His lawyer, Liz Beal, told the court that her client “adamantly denies the charges against him.’’

“He realizes these are very, very serious charges, and he denies them. He wants to fight this case,’’ said Beal, a Legal Aid attorney who said she was representing Omar at his first court appearance and that he would seek private counsel.

Omar’s arrest came little more than two weeks after then-International Monetary Fund leader Dominique Strauss-Kahn was charged with sexually assaulting a maid at a different Manhattan hotel. Strauss-Kahn, who has since resigned from his IMF post, denies the allegations. He is under house arrest as he awaits trial.

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