A French court has acquitted former International Monetary Fund chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn of "aggravated pimping" for sex parties that took place in France and Washington, DC. part of a scandal that brought an end to the economist's IMF career.
The court in Lille, France made its ruling Friday. Had he been found guilty, Strauss-Kahn would have faced up to 10 years in prison and a fine of $1.7 million.
At least 10 associates of Strauss-Kahn were also acquitted in a spectacle that has gripped France and cast a spotlight on the seamy underside of power and politics.
Even the prosecutor asked for Strauss Kahn’s acquittal, saying the charges of “aggravated pimping” could not be proved.
One man was not cleared - a former public relations manager who had worked for the Carlton Hotel in Lille, where some of the sex parties took place.
Following the verdict, Strauss-Kahn’s lawyer Henri Leclerc repeated his client’s insistance that he had committed no crime and the charges had no legal basis.
Women describe orgies
During court proceedings, which opened in February, women who had attended the parties testified about the brutal nature of the orgies Strauss-Kahn was accused of organizing.
During his trial, Strauss-Kahn admitted to being involved in the sex parties, but said he was unaware prostitutes were involved. He said he thought the women present were what he called “libertines.”
Prostitution is legal in France, but pimping is not. The Lille court found he was not involved in hiring or paying for the women.
The verdict ends four years of legal headaches for Strauss-Kahn, which began in 2011 when a New York hotel maid accused him of sexually assaulting her.
Those charges were eventually dropped, and he later came to a separate civil agreement with his accuser, former Sofitel housekeeper Nafissatou Diallo.
But the charges ended Strauss-Kahn’s IMF career, and also his political ambitions. He had been widely expected to run for French president in 2012. Instead, fellow Socialist Party member Francois Hollande did so and won the election.
Strauss-Kahn has since tried to repair his image, but many analysts believe his political career is over.