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