Former International Monetary Fund chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn has again denied accusations that he assaulted a hotel chamber maid in New York, but offered his regrets at what he described as inappropriate behavior.
On French television Sunday night, Dominique Strauss-Kahn said his encounter with New York hotel maid Nafissatou Diallo did not include violence.
Strauss-Kahn said that he behaved inappropriately and committed an error that he will regret the rest of his life. He said he had let down his family, his friends and the French people. The former IMF chief was widely considered a top contender in France's presidential election next year, until his career was derailed by rape charges in May.
Strauss-Kahn said he was not proud of his actions with Diallo. But saying he cited the New York prosecutor's report, Strauss-Kahn added that the Guinean maid lied throughout the judicial process that made international headlines. New York prosecutors dropped the case in August. Strauss-Kahn's lawyers have not denied that sexual relations took place, but they argue that they were consensual.
The former IMF chief said he felt abused by the U.S. justice system and that he had been humiliated and attacked before he could speak in his defense.
Millions of French viewers tuned in to the first interview Strauss-Kahn has given since returning to France earlier this month. His wife is a friend of the TF1 television journalist Claire Chazal, who conducted the interview.
Strauss-Kahn still faces a civil case brought by Diallo along with allegations of attempted rape in France filed by writer Tristane Banon. Strauss-Kahn has filed a countersuit against Banon alleging defamation of character.
Strauss-Kahn called Banon's accusations imaginary. As with Diallo, he denied any violence during his encounter with her, which took place nearly a decade ago.
The twin scandals have sparked intense debate in France about gender equality and sexual harassment in the workplace. Strauss-Kahn resigned as IMF chief in May and was replaced by former French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde, who is the institution's first female head. During his television appearance, Strauss-Kahn insisted that he respects women. He denied using his powerful position to obtain sexual favors.
Strauss-Kahn ruled out playing a political role in France in the immediate future. Regarding the financial crisis buffeting Europe, the former IMF chief said he is interested in working on economic and immigration issues in the future.
A public opinion poll published Sunday in the weekly Journal du Dimanche found that a majority of French hope Strauss-Kahn will retire from political life.