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Could This Be a French Watergate?

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On May 14, 2011, Dominique Strauss-Kahn (known as DSK), the managing director of the International Monetary Fund, was arrested in New York for allegedly sexually assaulting a maid. I must admit I kept an open mind for about two days, and then assumed he was guilty. After all, he seemed to have a reputation as a womanizer, and he was part of the powerful world elite who seem to believe they can have their way in everything. It all seemed simple enough.

So Saturday morning, when my husband opened the Financial Times Weekend edition and read me bits and pieces of an article entitled, "Two hours that sank Strauss-Kahn," I was surprised. It seems that the French may soon be embroiled in a Watergate-type blowup. An American investigative journalist, Edward Jay Epstein, has researched the entire event and come up with damning evidence that suggests DSK may have been set up. Epstein's investigative research is to be published in the New York Times Book Review.

There was apparently a lot going in the French-owned Sofitel Hotel just before and after Strauss-Kahn was arrested. DSK has always maintained he had consensual sex, and perhaps it was. But the supposed victim, maid Nafissatou Diallo, may well have been part of a plan to bring down DSK before he had a chance to run for French president in the April 2012 elections. He had been forewarned by a diplomat that there were rumors of a possible scandal planned to embarrass him.

The new information presented is based on specifics that were given to the prosecuting and defense attorneys by the hotel. Using telephone records, security camera footage, and data from electronic key cards, Mr. Epstein has raised valuable questions that strongly suggest what happened that day may in fact not be just about sex.

Hotel records show Diallo (the maid) used a key card to enter a room close to Strauss-Kahn's several times before and after the alleged incident. The hotel has refused to reveal the name of the person staying in that room. Records also show two different people entered DSK's room with key cards before the alleged event took place, while he was in the shower. Afterwards, almost an hour passed before the police were called, despite the fact housekeeping and hotel security staff had been informed of the supposed forced sexual attack. Medical services were also not summoned for Ms. Diallo.

The following may be the most difficult data to reconcile with the supposed events. When DSK was arrested, his IMF Blackberry was left behind in his room. It disappeared and according to the GPS was still in the hotel until it was disabled thirty minutes later. DSK believes it was stolen because he planned to have it checked for "bugs." Associates of DSK informed Mr. Epstein that an email message sent to his wife about finding someone to check his cell phone had been seen in the Paris office of the UMP (Mr. Sarkozy's political party).

Also, the hotel's chief engineer, Brian Yearwood, visited DSK's room before police were called and then sat with Ms. Diallo in the service area. But, perhaps the oddest thing in the aftermath of these events was revealed by security cameras. Film shows Mr. Yearwood and an unidentified man giving each other high-fives and doing a celebratory dance that lasts several minutes. Under the circumstances that seems like a very strange thing to do.

All of this has reminded me that someone should not be judged guilty until all the evidence is in, even a womanizing world leader. Also it is possible information gathered on any of us can be helpful, as well as harmful. And lastly, that real life may be truly stranger than fiction. I expect to read more in the news and to see these events depicted in a TV movie.