Dominique Strauss-Kahn pleaded not guilty on Monday to charges that he sexually assaulted a New York hotel maid as her lawyer declared that the 「traumatised」 alleged victim would testify against him in court.
The former head of the International Monetary Fund entered a formal plea of not guilty at his third court appearance, but a court spokesman said his trial might not begin until next January.
Mr Strauss-Kahn was driven to the court from the luxury Manhattan home where he is living under armed guard on $1m cash bail. He walked in past about 50 hotel workers who chanted 「Shame on you」 and said they were seeking 「respect」.
He was asked for his plea to seven charges related to the alleged assault on May 14, which cost him his job. The most severe charge carries a 25-year prison sentence.
Mr Strauss-Kahn』s case has deprived France』s opposition Socialists of their most powerful weapon in next year』s presidential election, where the former IMF boss was widely tipped to defeat Nicolas Sarkozy, the incumbent president.
The next court date was set for July 18 as lawyers for the defence and the prosecution agreed to proceed with 「discovery」, the process that gives the defence access to the evidence and testimony that the prosecution has accumulated. The maid, a 32-year-old Guinean, has her own lawyers working separately from the Manhattan district attorney, which is prosecuting Mr Strauss-Kahn.
Kenneth Thompson, one of her lawyers, told reporters outside the court house: 「All of Dominique Strauss-Kahn』s power, money and influence will not stop the truth of what he did to her in that hotel room from coming out . . . She is going to come into this court house, get into that witness stand and tell the world what [he] did to her.」
Mr Strauss-Kahn』s lawyer, Benjamin Brafman, said outside court: 「When the evidence is in, it will be clear there was no forcible compulsion.」
The statement appeared to confirm that the defence would argue any sexual contact was consensual. It made the prospect of a plea bargain with prosecutors even more unlikely.
Mr Thompson said the notion of consensual sex was 「preposterous」 and said of the maid: 「She is suffering and she is traumatised by what Dominique Strauss-Kahn did to her.」
A court spokesman said hearings on the admissibility of evidence would probably begin from September and that the wait until a trial begins may extend into next year.
Mr Strauss-Kahn』s resignation from the IMF four days after his arrest has sparked an urgent race to replace him as the fund continues to play a key role in tackling the eurozone debt crisis.