A throng of angry hotel workers chanted "shame on you" at the former leader of the International Monetary Fund Monday after he told a New York judge he was not guilty of attempting to rape a Manhattan maid.
The group of hotel workers, many of them uniformed maids, pressed against barricades outside state Supreme Court in downtown New York City when Dominique Strauss-Kahn arrived and departed from the court hearing in a black sport utility vehicle.
The protesters wanted to send the message that "New York is the wrong place to mess with a hotel worker," said Aissata Bocum, a Ramada Inn housekeeper. The 50 or so workers, mostly maids, were bused in by their union.
After the arrests of Strauss-Kahn and a former chairman of a major Egyptian bank for alleged assaults of hotel workers within weeks of each other, at least one Manhattan hotel reportedly told its maids they would be provided with panic buttons.
The 62-year-old Strauss-Kahn was scheduled to check out of the Sofitel hotel, near Times Square, May 14. The maid told police he chased her down a hallway in his $3,000-a-night hotel suite, tried to pull down her pantyhose and forced her to perform oral sex.
Defense lawyer Ben Brafman referred to Strauss-Kahn's not-guilty plea as "a very eloquent, powerful statement that he made that he denies the charges."
The maid's attorney, Kenneth Thompson, said his client would testify at trial and tell the truth despite the "smear campaign that is being committed against her."
He was referring to mostly French media reports alleging a conspiracy against Strauss-Kahn and suggesting her story was invented. The defense has also alluded to having damning information against the maid but has not released it.
"The victim wants you to know that all of Dominique Strauss-Kahn's power, money and influence throughout the world will not keep the truth about what he did to her in that hotel room from coming out," Thompson said. "She is standing up for women around the world, sexually assaulted, who are too afraid to come forward."
The Associated Press generally does not identify accusers in sex crime cases unless they agree to it. Thompson said the maid, a widow who has a teenage daughter, has not worked since the encounter because she is traumatized.