Strauss-Kahn, French accuser meet face-to-face

September 29, 2011 - 6:10 AM
Strauss-Kahn Lawsuit

FILE - In this Sept. 18, 2011 file photo, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, former head of the International Monetary Fund, looks on prior to a television interview at the TV news broadcast by French TV station TF1, in Boulogne-Billancourt, outside Paris. Strauss-Kahn on Monday, Sept. 26, 2011 claimed he has diplomatic immunity and asked a New York court to dismiss a lawsuit filed by the hotel maid who says he sexually assaulted her. (AP Photo/Francois Guillot, Pool, File)

PARIS (AP) — Former IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn met in a face-to-face confrontation Thursday with a Frenchwoman who says he tried to rape her, as the two were questioned jointly by investigators deciding whether to pursue the case.

The Paris prosecutor's office is investigating Tristane Banon's claims that Strauss-Kahn attacked her during an interview for a book in 2003. Strauss-Kahn calls the claims imaginary and slanderous.

Banon requested a one-on-one meeting with Strauss-Kahn, which investigators granted. The two arrived at the police facility Thursday morning in cars and did not speak to reporters gathered outside.

This kind of confrontation is a practice sometimes used in France to help officials decide if a case is worth pursuing.

Strauss-Kahn quit as head of the International Monetary Fund and saw his chances for the French presidency evaporate after a New York hotel maid accused him of attempted rape in May.

The U.S. case was later dropped amid questions about the maid's credibility, but the maid, Nafissatou Diallo, has filed a civil suit. Strauss-Kahn claimed Monday he has diplomatic immunity and asked a New York court to dismiss the lawsuit.

French accuser Banon has also threatened to sue Strauss-Kahn if Paris prosecutors decide not to go forward with a criminal case against him.

One challenge for Banon's case is that the incident in question happened eight years ago.

Banon has said that Strauss-Kahn invited her to an empty apartment for the book interview, and they ended up tussling on the floor, with the politician trying to open her jeans and bra and putting his fingers in her mouth and underwear.

Banon has defended her decision not to press charges against Strauss-Kahn at the time of the alleged incident. In 2003, she was 23 years old and Strauss-Kahn was an eminence grise of France's Socialist party.

The Associated Press does not generally name accusers in sexual assault cases unless they agree to be named or identify themselves publicly, as Banon and Diallo have done.