Dominique Strauss-Kahn has broken his long public silence on the six minutes that shook the world in Suite 2806 of the Manhattan Sofitel on May 14.
The former IMF chief claims that the chambermaid, Nafissatou Diallo, initiated their sexual act by looking suggestively at his private parts when he emerged from the shower. The former French presidential front-runner admits that he bears a "heavy responsibility" for his downfall but insists that the encounter was "consensual but stupid".
Strauss-Kahn's version of events is described in a book published yesterday by Michel Taubmann, a French writer who is friendly with the disgraced Socialist politician. The book repeats several of the allegations of a possible conspiracy to destroy Strauss-Kahn, which were made by an American investigative journalist last weekend.
The French politician discussed his six or seven-minute sexual encounter with Diallo in four interviews with Taubmann in New York in August. His account was described by the Guinean chambermaid's lawyers yesterday as a "complete fantasy".
Although charges of attempted rape against Strauss-Kahn have been dropped by New York authorities, Diallo is pursuing a civil action. Taubmann's book, and the investigative article that appeared in the New York Review of Books, have been widely dismissed in the French media as part of the legal manoeuvres surrounding the civil case.
Taubmann gives Strauss-Kahn's first published account of the disputed events in a book called Affaire DSK: la contre-enquete.
"Emerging from the shower as naked as Adam, the director-general of the IMF was confronted with Nafissatou Diallon, whom he had never seen before," Taubmann writes. "He watched her walk down the corridor [of the suite]. Nafissatou Diallo turned around. She looked him straight in the eyes. Then she unashamedly looked at his private parts.
"The flesh is weak. Dominique Strauss-Kahn saw this as a proposition. Rarely in his life has he ever refused the possibility of a moment of pleasure. He did not resist the temptation of oral sex."
DSK was arrested later that day after Diallo claimed that he forced her to perform a sexual act.
At the time of the incident, Strauss-Kahn was the undeclared front-runner for the French presidential elections. An article in the New York Review of Books last weekend by Edward Jay Epstein pointed to a possible plot to destroy DSK by political forces close to Sarkozy.
In his new book, Taubmann pursues, like Epstein, the intriguing question of what happened to a BlackBerry which was "lost" by Strauss-Kahn on May 14. Both men say that Strauss-Kahn had been warned that emails sent from the phone were being read by senior figures in Sarkozy's party.
Both say that the phone was last used by Strauss-Kahn at 12.13pm on May 14, when he called his daughter, Camille, within a few seconds of finishing his sexual encounter with Diallo. Taubmann's book suggests - without offering any evidence - that the chambermaid may have stolen the phone after DSK made the call.
- IndependentBy John Lichfield