NEW YORK (AP) — The leader of the International Monetary Fund and candidate for president of France was pulled from an airplane moments before he was to fly to Paris and was being questioned Saturday by police in connection with a sexual assault of a maid at a hotel, police said.
Dominique Strauss-Kahn, a candidate for president of France, was taken off the Air France flight at John F. Kennedy International Airport by officers from the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and was turned over to police Saturday afternoon, said Paul J. Browne, New York Police Department spokesman.
He was being questioned by the NYPD special victims office. No charges have yet been filed.
The 32-year-old woman told authorities that she entered Strauss-Kahn's room at the Sofitel near Manhattan's Times Square at about 1 p.m. Saturday and he emerged from the bedroom naked, threw her down and tried to sexually assault her, Browne said. She somehow broke free and escaped the room and told hotel staff what had happened, authorities said. They called police.
When New York City police detectives arrived moments later, Strauss-Kahn had already left the hotel, leaving behind his cellphone and other personal items, Browne said. "It looked like he got out of there in a hurry," Browne said.
The NYPD discovered he was at the airport and contacted the Port Authority, who plucked Kahn from the Air France flight that had not yet departed. It wasn't immediately clear if the 62-year-old Strauss-Kahn had been planning to leave Saturday afternoon, police said.
The maid was taken by police to an area hospital. John Sheehan, a spokesman for the hotel, said its staff was cooperating with the authorities in the investigation.
William Murray, a spokesman for the IMF in Washington, said the IMF had no immediate comment on the reports of Strauss-Kahn's arrest.
Strauss-Kahn, rejected by the French Socialists as their presidential candidate in 2006, gained international recognition as France's finance minister in 1997-99.
He is credited with preparing France for the adoption of the euro by taming its deficit and persuading then-Prime Minister Lionel Jospin to sign up to an EU pact of fiscal prudence.
A former economics professor, Strauss-Kahn joined the Socialist party in 1976 and was elected to parliament in 1986 from the Val-d'Oise district, north of Paris. He went on to become mayor of Sarcelles, a working-class immigrant suburb of Paris.
His first government post was industry minister under former President Francois Mitterrand. As finance minister, he reduced France's debt repayments through a raft of privatizations including the sale of shares in France Telecom SA and Air France.
Strauss-Kahn is a married father of four. His third wife, Anne Sinclair, is a former television presenter.