IMF chief under suicide watch at NYC jail
Tuesday, May 17, 2011
NEW YORK (AP) — IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn was placed under a suicide watch in jail, while pressure mounted on him to resign Tuesday and the hotel maid who accused him of attempted rape said through her lawyer that she had no idea who he was when she reported him to the police.
All prisoners arriving at Rikers Island are given a mental health assessment to determine whether they pose a suicide risk. Norman Seabrook, president of the guards union, said Strauss-Kahn did or said something during that evaluation that made doctors concerned, and he is being monitored day and night.
Law enforcement officials emphasized that Strauss-Kahn had not tried to harm himself but that guards were keeping a close watch on him just in case.
Meanwhile, details began to emerge about his accuser, a 32-year-old immigrant from the West African nation of Guinea with a 15-year-old daughter.
“There is no way in which there is any aspect of this event which could be construed consensual in any manner. This is nothing other than a physical, sexual assault by this man on this young woman,” her attorney, Jeffrey Shapiro, told The Associated Press. He added: “She did not know who this man was until a day or two after this took place.”
Strauss-Kahn, the 62-year-old managing director of the International Monetary Fund, was arrested Saturday and is being held without bail at the city’s Rikers Island jail, kept apart from his fellow prisoners in a unit that normally houses inmates with contagious diseases.
Police and prosecutors said he ambushed a housekeeper who had come to clean his $3,000-per-night at a New York hotel. Lawyers for the influential banker have challenged that account, saying the evidence doesn’t support accusations of forcible sex.
The woman’s lawyer, Shapiro, said there was no truth to suggestions that she had fabricated her account, describing her as an honest woman with “no agenda.”
“Her life has now been turned upside down. She can’t go home. She can’t go back to work. She has no idea what her future will be, what she will be able to do to support herself and her daughter. This has been nothing short of a cataclysmic event in her life,” Shapiro said. He said she “feels alone in the world.”
The woman, he said, came to the U.S. seven years ago under “very difficult circumstances” and is raising her daughter by herself now that the girl’s father is dead. The family was granted asylum in the U.S., and she is a legal resident. She has worked at the hotel for three years, according to Shapiro.
Strauss-Kahn’s arrest continued to produce calls for his resignation from the IMF, which provides emergency loans to stabilize countries in economic distress and is now grappling with the debt crisis in Europe.
Austria’s finance minister, Maria Fekter, said: “Considering the situation, that bail was denied, he has to figure out for himself that he is hurting the institution.”
Meanwhile, Strauss-Kahn’s past conduct with other women is getting new scrutiny.
The banker was investigated internally by the IMF following a 2008 affair with an employee, the Hungarian-born economist Piroska Nagy. The institution eventually absolved him of wrongdoing, but on Tuesday a person close to Nagy said she had sent the organization a letter at the time warning about his behavior toward women.
The letter voiced “doubts about Dominique Strauss-Kahn’s suitability for running an international institution,” according to the person, who declined to be identified, citing the sensitivity of the matter.
The New York Times published an excerpt of the letter, along with an account that said Strauss-Kahn had aggressively pursued Nagy, sent her sexually explicit messages and once had her summoned from the bathroom to speak to him.