Maid's lawyer: IMF sex assault case no setup

The woman who accused the head of the International Monetary Fund of trying to rape her at a New York City hotel would take the stand against him if called by prosecutors, her lawyer said.

"She will tell her story," attorney Jeffrey Shapiro said in an interview with Chris Wragge, co-anchor of CBS' "The Early Show." "She's happy to do that because she's telling the truth."

Shapiro's comments come after news reports published Wednesday indicated that IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn would pursue a defense that he had consensual sex with his accuser, who immigrated to the United States from Guinea and works as a maid at the posh Sofitel New York hotel.

There have also been whispered allegations that her charges were a conspiracy and a setup.

Strauss-Kahn was one of France's most high-profile politicians and a potential candidate for president in next year's elections. His arrest shocked France and cast intense attention on his accuser, a 32-year-old chambermaid from the West African nation of Guinea.

Strauss-Kahn seemed to anticipate that his problems with women could be a political liability ahead of France's presidential elections.

The French daily newspaper Liberation reported this week that at a meeting with Strauss-Kahn in April, he speculated that his presidential campaign might be subjected to low blows over "money, women and my Jewishness."

Strauss-Kahn also theorized that his enemies might try to pay someone to accuse him of rape, according to the newspaper.

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He was ordered to be held without bail at his arraignment Monday, two days after his accuser complained to the police.

Reports about the defense's possible strategy focused on statements Strauss-Kahn's lawyer made at Monday's hearing, specifically when the lawyer, Benjamin Brafman, said that "forensic evidence" was "not consistent with forcible encounter."

Shapiro told Wragge that there was nothing consensual about Saturday's incident.

"There was nothing about any aspect of this encounter between this young woman and the defendant which was remotely consensual or could be construed as consensual, either physical contact or sexual contact," Shapiro said.

Shapiro characterized Strauss-Kahn's possible strategy as "spinning."

"In effect, what his defense amounts to is attempting to accuse the victim and so she can't step forward," Shapiro said.

The lawyer said his client, whose name has not been disclosed, would step forward when the time is right.

"She's the victim of a sex crime," said Shapiro. "She can't take the public stage and talk about this nor would she want to do that. Essentially she has to sit and remain where she is, cooperating with the authorities until such time as she has an opportunity to step forth in court, on the record before a jury, and tell her story."

The woman came to the United States under "very difficult circumstances" in 2004 from Guinea, one of the world's most destitute countries, Shapiro told the Associated Press.

Guinea's average annual income of $1,000 per person is lower than Haiti's and Rwanda's and about the same as Afghanistan's, according to the CIA World Factbook.

The woman's daughter, then 8, came with her. The girl's father is dead, and they have no other relatives in the United States, Shapiro said.

"They are very much alone in this world," he said.

The United States gave the pair political asylum, he said, though he was unsure of the reason.

The woman found work as a chambermaid in hotels, he said, eventually landing a job in 2008 at the French-owned Sofitel Hotel on 44th Street in Manhattan. The hotel said she was a satisfactory employee.

The woman and her daughter moved into an apartment building in the Bronx about 10 months ago, said Zulema ZuIniga, who lives on the same floor. The neighbors would occasionally meet in the elevator and say hello.

"She was very nice," ZuIniga said.

But this humble immigrant life was shattered, police say, on Saturday afternoon, when the woman entered Strauss-Kahn's suite at the Sofitel to clean the room.

Strauss-Kahn came out of the bathroom naked, chased her down a hallway and pulled her into a bedroom, the woman told police. Then he dragged her into a bathroom, forced her to perform oral sex on him and tried to remove her underwear, she said.

She broke free, fled the room and told hotel security, but Strauss-Kahn was gone by the time detectives arrived, authorities said. They arrested him soon afterward on an airliner that was just about to depart for Europe.

Shapiro, a personal injury attorney, said he was put in touch with the woman through a mutual acquaintance. He said they had not discussed the possibility of a civil lawsuit against Strauss-Kahn.

Media attention has made it impossible for his client to return to her house or to work, Shapiro said. This week television crews and photographers hung around the employee entrance of the Sofitel and loitered outside her apartment, hoping for a glimpse of her.

Shapiro said his client is now in a "safe place," but would not elaborate.

"Her life has now been turned upside down," Shapiro said. "She can't go home, she can't go back to work. ... This has been nothing short of a cataclysmic event in her life."

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