It was around midday on a lazy spring Saturday in New York. But behind the closed doors of a luxury hotel suite, a chambermaid was allegedly being brutally attacked in a horrific ordeal that would shock the world.
Her ordeal could well spell the end of the stellar career of veteran French politician Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the managing director of the IMF, who now faces up to 25 years behind bars if convicted. He denies the allegations.
During several long, terrifying minutes, the 32-year-old maid said she was grappled and groped, had her breasts and intimate parts fondled, her panties ripped and was forced to endure as her attacker tried to push his penis into her mouth.
Shocked and in terror, she said she finally escaped and ran panicked from the US$3,000-a-night suite 2086 of the Sofitel in midtown Manhattan, telling staff and friends that she had been indecently mauled by the man inside in a degrading and frightening assault.
Little is known about the woman, who has worked at the swanky, French-owned hotel for three years, as her identity has remained a closely guarded secret since her nightmare allegedly began.
She is said to be an immigrant from Africa, raising a 16-year-old daughter in their home in a poor neighborhood of the Bronx, the New York Post reported. Sofitel says she has always been a good worker.
The maid may not have recognized her silver-haired alleged attacker, but within hours of raising the alarm, news of the brutal assault had unleashed a media storm that rippled around the globe.
One of the most powerful men in the world, Strauss-Kahn regularly jet-sets first class around the globe and stays in the most luxurious hotels while trying to resolve some of the biggest economic problems nations can face.
However, according to New York prosecutors, who on Monday unveiled the sordid, graphic details of the attack for the first time, he showed a very different side to his personality in the hotel suite with views over the Big Apple.
Prosecutors allege that about midday on Saturday, after emerging naked from the shower, the 62-year-old finance chief pounced on the chambermaid half his age, who had just entered the suite to clean after knocking on the door.
Fox News reported that as is hotel protocol, she had knocked three times on the door of the 28th floor suite and identified herself as “housekeeping” before entering to take away trays and leftover condiments.
According to the criminal complaint against the IMF chief, he then shut the door of his hotel room, trapping the maid inside, and he grabbed her breasts, tried to pull down her pantyhose and groped her crotch.
“His penis made contact with the victim’s mouth twice through the use of force,” the complaint said.
The maid was said to be still recovering from her ordeal, after being thoroughly examined by doctors at a hospital who prosecutors said had found forensic evidence from the attack.
“She’s a good person, very nice, very friendly. She’s in shock,” one of her co-workers told the New York Post.
Another told the New York Times that the maid has “never given a problem for nobody. Never noisy. Everything nice.”
“She made outcries to multiple witnesses immediately after the incident,” a sign that whatever had happened in suite 2086 had shaken the young woman to the core, Assistant District Attorney John McConnell told a court hearing.