LILLE, France: Former IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn on Wednesday lashed out at the focus on his sexual behaviour in a French court where he is charged with pimping, saying he was not on trial for “deviant” acts.
The 65-year-old, once seen as a frontrunner for the French presidency, said the idea that his preference for certain practices highlighted in court, such as sodomy, would spur him to seek out prostitutes was “absurd.”
For a second day, the court in the northern city of Lille picked apart sex parties attended by Strauss-Kahn in Paris, Brussels and Washington in a bid to uncover whether he arranged for prostitutes to attend.
While prostitution in itself is legal, encouraging and organising its practice is considered to be procuring and is punishable by up to 10 years in prison.
Strauss-Kahn denies knowing that the women with whom he engaged in “free and friendly” sex parties were prostitutes, saying paying for sex would be too great a risk for a man at the head of the IMF, which was busy “saving the world from an unprecedented” financial crisis.
Wednesday’s proceedings began with an emotional account from Jade, an ex-prostitute, about a night in a Brussels hotel where she said Strauss-Kahn sodomised her without permission, in what she said was a clear sign he knew she was paid to be there.
“I experienced a penetration without my permission. If I was a libertine, I would at least have been asked if I wanted to do that,” she said, adding she had not had time to protest.
Strauss-Kahn said he did not realise she objected and was “sorry” she experienced it that way.
The silver-haired economist lost his patience when a lawyer for the prostitutes interrogated him on the act.
“I am starting to get fed up,” he said, adding people were free to disagree with his proclivities, but that he was not on trial for “deviant sexual practices.”
Much of proceedings were taken up with accounts of a trip by Jade and friends of Strauss-Kahn to visit him in Washington, and whether the then-IMF chief asked for a prostitute to be brought along.
It emerged Strauss-Kahn had taken Jade on a visit to the IMF, and judge Bernard Lemaire passed around a picture of her smiling alongside him in his office. However Strauss-Kahn said if he had known she was a prostitute it was “inconceivable” that he would have risked taking her to his place of work.
Lemaire asked Jade why she had agreed to the trip which took place in January 2010.
“For 2,000 euros! I am not going to say no. I love travelling. I had never seen Washington,” she said.
Jade said that while Strauss-Kahn’s entourage had asked her to be “discreet” and pretend she was a secretary on the trip to Washington, she had previously had a conversation with him in which she mentioned she worked at a swingers club.
“There is naive and then there is naive. We are not stupid. It is easy” to say Strauss-Kahn did not know they were prostitutes, she said.
Strauss-Kahn hit back saying: “I am not naive.”
The court also spent a lot of time cross-examining Fabrice Paszkowski and David Roquet — who have admitted to organising and paying for the sex parties — and former police commissioner Jean-Christophe Lagarde, on their role in the alleged prostitution ring.
Paszkowski said he never told Strauss-Kahn he had paid the women to attend, as he would have been ashamed to do so.
Paszkowski’s lawyer Karl Vandamme attacked the court for putting prostitution on trial. “We must stop this hypocrisy because there are clashing systems, one like ours which legalises prostitution … and one which forbids pimping. The two laws are getting mixed up and creating confusion.”
Laws aside, Strauss-Kahn, an unabashed libertine, has said he is “horrified at the practice of using prostitutes.”
He also objected to the impression given by the prosecution of a “frenetic” schedule of sex parties, saying he only took part in such “recreational outlets” four times a year between 2008 and 2011.
Known in France as DSK, Strauss-Kahn finds himself back in the dock four years after his high-flying career and presidential prospects were torpedoed when he was accused of sexual assault by a New York hotel maid, a case later settled in a civil suit.
He is the most high-profile of the accused who include a colourful cast of characters, including police, a prostitute, a lawyer and a notorious brothel owner known as “Dodo the Pimp.”