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International Monetary Fund (IMF) Managing Director Dominique Strauss-Kahn is being held by NYC police. J. Scott Applewhite/AP/Press Association Images

IMF head charged with attempted rape following sexual assault allegations

Dominique Strauss-Kahn was pulled from an airplane moments before he was to fly to Paris, after a New York chamber maid told police he had sexually assaulted her in his hotel suite.

Updated 2.55pm

THE HEAD OF the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Dominique Strauss-Khan has been charged with attempted rape in New York.

Stauss-Kahn, a possible candidate for president of France, was pulled from an airplane moments before he was to fly to Paris and was arrested Sunday in connection with a violent sexual assault of a hotel maid, New York City police said.

He 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 for questioning Saturday afternoon, said Paul J Browne, New York Police Department spokesman.

Strauss-Kahn was arrested at 2.15 am Sunday on charges of a criminal sex act, attempted rape and unlawful imprisonment, and was charged earlier today, BBC reports.

He is expected to appear before a state court judge later today. His lawyer said he denies the claims.

Earlier Benjamin Brafman, had told The New York Times late Saturday: ”We have not yet been able to meet with our client and we may have more to say tomorrow.”

The 32-year-old woman told authorities that she entered Strauss-Kahn’s suite at the luxury Sofitel hotel not far from Manhattan’s Times Square at about 4pm GMT on Saturday, NYPD spokesman Browne said.

She said she had been told to clean the spacious $3000-a-night-suite suite, which she had been told was empty.

According to an account the woman provided to police, Strauss-Kahn emerged from the bathroom naked, chased her down a hallway and pulled her into a bedroom, where he began to sexually assault her.

She said she fought him off, then he dragged her into the bathroom, where he forced her to perform oral sex on him and tried to remove her underwear.

The woman said she was able to break free again and escape the room to tell 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, Browne said.

The NYPD discovered that he was at the airport and contacted Port Authority officials, who plucked Strauss-Kahn from first class on the Air France flight that was just about to leave the gate.

The maid was taken by police to a hospital and being treated for minor injuries. John Sheehan, a spokesman for the hotel, said its staff was cooperating in the investigation.

Strauss-Kahn was briefly investigated in 2008 over whether he had an improper relationship with a subordinate female employee. The IMF board found his actions “regrettable” and said they “reflected a serious error of judgment.”

The arrest of the IMF chief means a key participant will be missing at a European summit on Monday and Tuesday which will be considering whether to give Greece billions more in financial help.

The International Monetary Fund says it “continues to function” despite the arrest.

- AP

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