|French writer Tristane Banon, 32, said Dominique Strauss-Kahn tried to rape her eight years ago. (Gonzalo Fuentes/Reuters)|
PARIS - Dominique Strauss-Kahn was brought face to face yesterday with the French writer who has accused him of trying to rape her eight years ago. In two hours of police questioning, Strauss-Kahn, the former managing director of the International Monetary Fund, continued to deny any wrongdoing, one of his lawyers said.
Strauss-Kahn and his accuser, Tristane Banon, were questioned together at a French police station as investigators sought to compare their versions of events and extract further information on the case.
They met for the first time since Strauss-Kahn was arrested in the United States in May on charges of sexual assault. In that case, New York prosecutors decided to drop charges because of credibility problems with the accuser, a New York City hotel housekeeper.
“Mr. Strauss-Kahn repeated that there had been neither aggression nor violence in this case,’’ one of his lawyers, Frede Beaulieu, said afterward. “He didn’t apologize and had no reason to do so.’’
Banon maintained her version of the facts, said her lawyer, David Koubbi, and insisted Strauss-Kahn had lied.
“Ms. Banon continues to tell the truth,’’ Koubbi said, “and Mr. Strauss-Kahn continues to lie.’’
Lawyers were not present at the questioning yesterday.
In July, Banon, 32, filed a criminal complaint of attempted rape against Strauss-Kahn, 62, after she said he tried to assault her during an interview in 2003 for a book she was writing. Banon said Strauss-Kahn had thrown her to the ground, tried to undress her, and put his hand in her underwear.
Before filing her complaint, Banon said she had been advised not to press charges by her mother, a prominent member of the Socialist Party, as is Strauss-Kahn. She said she changed her mind after his arrest in New York.
After her complaint, the Paris prosecutor’s office opened a preliminary investigation and questioned several high-profile people over the summer.
Strauss-Kahn called Banon’s allegations “imaginary and slanderous’’ in an interview two weeks ago, his first since the New York arrest.
The magazine L’Express reported this month that in speaking with the police, Strauss-Kahn admitted having made a pass at Banon.
Yesterday’s joint questioning, a normal part of sexual assault cases in France, could represent a last legal step for prosecutors before either bringing formal charges or dropping the case.