Saturday, May 21, 2011

Exclusive: New Details on Dominique Strauss-Kahn's Maid's Trauma

The maid allegedly sexually assaulted by Dominique Strauss-Kahn was so distressed she had difficulty speaking and tried to vomit, sources tell John Solomon. Plus, new details on how her supervisors responded. Related: The timeline of Strass-Kahn’s weekend.

The luxury-hotel maid who alleges she was sexually assaulted by Dominique Strauss-Kahn was found by a supervisor in a hallway where she hid after escaping from the former International Monetary Fund director's room. Hotel workers described her as traumatized, having difficulty speaking, and immediately concerned about pressing charges and losing her job, according to sources familiar with the investigation.
Article - Solomon New DSK Details Members of the NYPD enter the Sofitel hotel in New York on May 14, 2011. (Photo: John Minchillo / AP Photo) The maid also repeatedly spit on the walls and floors of the suite in front of her hotel colleagues as she alleged that Strauss-Kahn locked her in his room and forced her into oral sex acts. That saliva is being tested for DNA markers and could become a crucial piece of evidence in the case, the sources said.
The sources, who spoke only on condition of anonymity because of the ongoing investigation, provided The Daily Beast details of what happened inside New York City's Sofitel hotel in the hour between the alleged attack and when hotel security notified the police, a gap Strauss-Kahn's defense team is certain to question as the case proceeds in court. Strauss-Kahn's lawyers deny any wrongdoing on his part.
The sources said the fact that it only took an hour for the hotel to calm the woman, get her to overcome her difficulty describing what happened, do a thorough interview and get police on scene for forensic testing helped make the case and apprehend the suspect before he fled the country.
The sources said the maid, described as a West African immigrant in her 30s, had normally been assigned to clean a different floor in the hotel but recently volunteered to take the floor where Strauss-Kahn's luxury suite was after a colleague had gone on leave.

The maid reported she entered Strauss-Kahn's room shortly before noon on Saturday, May 14, after a room-service employee had assured her the suite was empty, and she left the door open as she began cleaning, according to the sources.
She told supervisors she was startled when Strauss-Kahn emerged naked from a bathroom. She said she apologized to him and turned away from him, but that the IMF chief grabbed her from behind and, as The Daily Beast reported Friday, touched her breasts, remarking she was beautiful, the sources said.
Throughout the questioning, the maid appeared traumatized, at one point going to a bathroom to try to vomit and several times spitting on the floor and walls of the suite, according to the sources.
The woman alleged Strauss-Kahn slammed the door to the suite and engaged the indoor latch to lock it, trapping her inside. She alleged that he dragged her deeper inside the suite, and when she slipped trying to get away, he forced her head down to perform oral sex acts, the sources said, as The Daily Beast reported Friday.

The woman eventually escaped the room and hid in a hallway just outside his $3,000-a-night VIP suite, as Strauss-Kahn hurriedly left the suite and went downstairs to check out, the sources said.
A cleaning supervisor for the floor found the maid shortly before 12:30 p.m, when she appeared traumatized as she stood near a closet outside the suite. The maid told authorities she had hid in a hallway until Strauss-Kahn left, and the supervisor emerged from a service elevator a few moments later for a routine floor check, the sources said.
The supervisor tried to calm the maid and ascertain what happened, taking her back to Strauss-Kahn's suite, where the alleged victim became visibly upset. The maid expressed concern during at least one of the conversations with her supervisors that she'd lose her job because she had walked in on a hotel guest, the sources said.
The first supervisor reported the maid had nausea and was trembling. As soon as the supervisor ascertained an attack had occurred, she called one of her bosses in housecleaning, who responded to an in-house call and came to the floor, the sources said.
When the more senior housekeeping supervisor got enough details from the maid to make clear a crime had been committed, she called a hotel security officer to the room, the sources said.
The security officer interrogated the maid, getting extensive details of what had happened in the suite. Throughout the questioning, the maid appeared traumatized, at one point going to a bathroom to try to vomit and several times spitting on the floor and walls of the suite, according to the sources.
The hotel security officer decided to alert the chief of the hotel's security, a former law-enforcement officer himself, who tried to conduct another interview that was halting at times because the woman had become increasingly traumatized and sick, the sources said.

The maid repeated her concerns about being fired and inquired whether she should even press charges, the sources said.
The security chief immediately called the New York Police Department and an ambulance once he had ascertained there was enough evidence of a crime and that the maid's story had been consistent during all four contacts she had with hotel employees, the sources said.

The four interviews and repeated efforts to calm the woman took about an hour and police were summoned around 1:30 p.m., according to the sources.
Police showed up at the scene, and began hours of investigation. Shortly after police arrived, Strauss-Kahn called the hotel to report he had left his cellphone behind and his call was immediately routed to the Sofitel security chief, the sources said.
Working with detectives who were in the room, the hotel security chief falsely told Strauss-Kahn the cellphone had been located and he would drive it out to the IMF chief. The security boss got Strauss-Kahn to tell him that he was already at the Air France lounge at New York's John F. Kennedy Airport and planning to fly to Paris, the sources said.
Using the information from the security chief's call, the detectives called Port Authority police and were able to apprehend Strauss-Kahn on the jetliner about 10 minutes before the flight was to depart, the sources said.

“The quick reaction of the security chief and the detectives is what helped us nab the suspect,” one source told The Daily Beast.
The Sofitel has fully cooperated with law enforcement, making available employees for voluntary interviews, reviewing security tapes, and turning over records of phone calls, check-ins and check-outs and door card readers. Some witnesses were also brought before a grand jury before Strauss-Kahn was formally indicted and released on $1 million bail late last week, the sources said.
John Solomon is executive editor of the Center For Public Integrity.

Bibi’s White House Tantrum


Netanyahue could have reacted any number of ways to Barack Obama’s mention of the “1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps.” Let’s say, actually, four ways—embrace, circumspection, suspicion, tantrum. That he chose the last—saying immediately after the Obama speech that he “expects” to hear Obama in essence renounce what he’d just said before the entire world!—tells us a lot about the man’s shortcomings and (lack of) political instinct. All political is local, and Netanyahu undoubtedly scored points with his Likud base back home. But he has a base here in America too, and I think he misjudged that base badly.
The Speech
On Thursday President Obama delivered what was billed as a “major speech” on the Middle East. Touted as an articulation of the administration’s foreign policy in the region, the speech outlined few specific initiatives, but the biggest news was Obama’s statement on the Israeli-Palestinian crisis. While stopping short of laying out a process for peace, he said, “The dream of a Jewish and democratic state cannot be fulfilled with permanent occupation.” To achieve that, there must be two states "based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps,” he said—while shying away from sticky questions of Jerusalem and the refugees’ fate.
Bibi Fires Back
That plan was not well-received by Israel’s government. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Friday publicly rebuked the 1967 border plan, calling those lines “indefensible.” In a tense White House sit-down, Bibi told Obama that “peace based on illusions will crash eventually on the rocks of Middle East reality.” The pair met for two hours, and Netanyahu will speak before a joint session of Congress Tuesday—which many see as another opportunity to rail against Obama. Obama, meanwhile, was calm despite Netanyahu’s anger. “Obviously, there are some differences between us in the precise formulas and language, and that’s going to happen between friends,” Obama said. But, he added, “I think that it is possible for us to resolve what has obviously been a wrenching issue for decades now.”
Israeli Op-ed: Obama’s Plan ‘Unworkable’
Israel’s centrist English-language daily, JPost, chalked up the difference between Netanyahu and Obama to “a significantly different way of viewing reality.” Obama takes the “land-for-peace” formula, while Netanyahu is using past experiences. Part of the reason for Netanyahu’s reaction, the paper suggested, is due to uncertainty following the Arab Spring—and losing some crucial allies such as Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak. But it’s risky for both of them—they are both facing being blamed for ruining the U.S.-Israel relationship.
JPost editor David Horovitz wrote an editorial saying Obama underestimates Palestinian intolerance of Israel. “It is the president’s evident incapacity to appreciate the uncompromising Palestinian refusal to countenance Israel’s legitimacy that is the most damaging to the vital American-Israeli relationship and most dooming to his approach to peacekeeping.” Horovitz goes on to call Obama’s plan “unworkable” and “counterproductive,” and he criticizes Obama for not stating “clearly and firmly” that Palestine will have to solve the refugee crisis himself.
Palestinians Discouraged
Immediately following Obama’s Thursday speech, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas called an emergency meeting at his West Bank headquarters. While he instructed his associates not to release any public comments, an official at the meeting reported the group decided that Obama’s words “contained little hope for the Palestinians”—except for the part about restoring the 1967 borders.
As Netanyahu struck down that idea with Obama, Palestinians despaired further. Nabil Shaath, the official who met with Abbas, saw Netanyahu’s critique of the 1967 borders as “indefensible” as absurd when applied to “a tiny country like Palestine.”
Jewish Groups ‘Delighted’
Back in the U.S., some Jewish rights groups saw the public dispute as a good thing. “I was delighted,” said Rabbi Marvin Hier, founder of the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles. The reason? Because it made clear that Obama can’t expect Netanyahu to simply agree with him.
Europe, Arab League Back Obama
The president did draw a wealth of support from the international community outside of the Middle East. The United Kingdom’s foreign secretary, William Hague, agreed with Obama that “the borders of Israel and Palestine should be based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps.” Similar praise came from German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who called it a “good, viable path” forward. The head of the Arab League, Amr Moussa, concurred.

The Truth About Upper Big Branch

An inquiry by the state of West Virginia into the Upper Big Branch Mine explosion that killed 29 workers has found the mine’s owner, Massey Energy, “profoundly reckless” in elevating its drive to produce profits above worker safety. Pervasive safety violations — from shoddy ventilation to slapdash control of explosive coal dust — made the mine “an accident waiting to happen,” according to a panel of experts reporting to the governor’s office.
“I’m set up to fail here,” one miner wrote in his work notes two weeks before the tragedy. He despaired at being one of only two part-time “rock dusters” tasked with controlling the mine’s volatile coal dust — a lethal problem for which company records showed a backlog of hundreds of safety work orders.
Massey has denied culpability and attributed the explosion to an unpreventable surge of underground methane gas. Investigators rejected that claim and the state report convincingly traces the disaster through a chain of neglect, while accusing the company of building “a culture in which wrongdoing became acceptable.”
A federal investigation has already led to the criminal indictment of the mine’s security chief, who was charged with lying to federal investigators and attempting to dispose of evidence. The Obama administration has toughened regulatory oversight, demanding rigorous inspections and heavy penalties for offending mining companies. But the state report underlines the urgent need for far stronger safety laws. House Republicans and coal-state Democrats dedicated to Big Coal have refused to move on any sensible legislation.
Miners need whistle-blower protection to raise the alarm about dangerous conditions without fear of losing their livelihoods. Congress should make it a felony to alert managers that mine inspectors are on the way. Serial violators like Massey must face the strongest penalties, and the cynical gaming of safety violations with endless appeals must finally end. Hesitant lawmakers claim they need a fuller sense of what happened in the tragedy. They should face up to the 126-page report’s finding that the Upper Big Branch tragedy is a “tale of hubris.”