Volunteerism, coffee club, book club have kept King 'so busy'

Mount Pleasant retiree Dick King keeps busy with a coffee club and book club, and until recently held several volunteer positions.

Mic Smith

NEW YORK -- IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn was placed under a suicide watch in jail as pressure mounted on him to resign Tuesday, while the hotel maid who accused him of attempted rape said through her lawyer that she had no idea who he was when she reported him to the police.

Law enforcement officials emphasized that Strauss-Kahn had not tried to harm himself but that guards were keeping a close watch on him just in case.

Strauss-Kahn, the 62-year-old managing director of the International Monetary Fund, was arrested Saturday and is being held without bail at the city's Rikers Island jail, kept apart from his fellow prisoners in a unit that normally houses inmates with contagious diseases.

Police and prosecutors said he ambushed a housekeeper who had come to clean his $3,000-per-night suite at a New York hotel. Lawyers for the influential banker have challenged that account, saying the evidence doesn't support accusations of forcible sex.

They wouldn't elaborate, but the assertion gave rise to speculation that they might argue it was consensual sex.

At the same time, some of Strauss-Kahn's supporters in France, where he was considered a possible challenger next year to President Nicolas Sarkozy, have suggested he may be the victim of a setup.

Strauss-Kahn's arrest continued to produce calls for his resignation from the IMF, which provides emergency loans to stabilize countries in economic distress and is now grappling with the debt crisis in Europe.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner says Dominique Strauss-Kahn "is obviously not in a position to run" the International Monetary Fund after his arrest on charges of attempted rape.

Geithner says he can't comment on the case. But he says the IMF's 24-member executive board should formally designate an interim head. John Lipsky has been serving as acting managing director.

Geithner's were the first remarks on the case from a top Obama administration official.

Austria's finance minister, Maria Fekter, said: "Considering the situation, that bail was denied, he has to figure out for himself that he is hurting the institution."

Strauss-Kahn himself appeared to realize that his relationships with women could be a political problem. The French daily newspaper Liberation reported this week that at a meeting with Strauss-Kahn in April, he speculated that his presidential campaign might be subjected to low blows over "money, women and my Jewishness."

"Yes, I love women ... so what?" the newspaper quoted him as saying.

Strauss-Kahn also theorized that his enemies might try to pay someone to accuse him of rape, according to the newspaper.

Strauss-Kahn's American lawyer, Benjamin Brafman, said Monday that he believes that once all of the physical evidence is in, his client will be exonerated.

All prisoners arriving at Rikers Island are given a mental health assessment to determine whether they pose a suicide risk. Norman Seabrook, president of the guards union, said Strauss-Kahn did or said something during that evaluation that made doctors concerned, and he is being monitored day and night.

A law enforcement official, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of prisoner medical information, said Strauss-Kahn had not tried to harm himself.

Because of his stature, Strauss-Kahn has been assigned to a section of the Rikers Island jail that normally houses prisoners with highly contagious diseases, like measles or tuberculosis. Corrections spokesman Stephen Morello said Strauss-Kahn has been placed in a wing with about 14 cells, all of them empty except for his.

The cell has a toilet and a sink. He takes his meals there, with breakfast at 5 a.m., lunch at 11 a.m. and dinner at 4 p.m. or 5 p.m.

Morello said Strauss-Kahn is free to leave his cell from time to time and wander the wing, and can leave the building for an hour each day for recreation outdoors, if he wants. Because he is awaiting trial, Strauss-Kahn isn't required to wear a prison uniform. He may bring his own clothing and wear what he chooses, except for his shoes. All prisoners are required to wear prison-issue slip-on sneakers.

Also, he must change out of his street clothes and put on a gray jumpsuit when he wishes to see visitors. The suits are designed without pockets or other hiding places where a person could stash contraband.

Strauss-Kahn is charged with attempted rape, sex abuse, a criminal sex act, unlawful imprisonment and forcible touching. The most serious charge carries five to 25 years in prison.

Associated Press

NEW YORK -- The hotel maid accusing IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn of trying to rape her as she went to clean his suite is telling the truth, has "no agenda" and did not even know who he was until after the fact, her lawyer said Tuesday.

The woman is an immigrant from the West African nation of Guinea with a 15-year-old daughter, lawyer Jeffrey Shapiro said.

Her story of being attacked by Strauss-Kahn in the Sofitel hotel suite near Times Square is "consistent" because she is telling the truth, he said.

"There is no way in which there is any aspect of this event which could be construed consensual in any manner," Shapiro said. "This is nothing other than a physical, sexual assault by this man on this young woman."

He continued: "It's not just my opinion that this woman is honest. The New York City Police Department reached the same conclusion." He added, "This is a woman with no agenda."

The 62-year-old Strauss-Kahn is jailed in New York on charges including attempted rape after being denied bail on Monday.

Defense attorney Benjamin Brafman has said defense lawyers believe the forensic evidence "will not be consistent with a forcible encounter."

Brafman wouldn't elaborate but said "there are significant issues that were already found" that make it "quite likely that he will be ultimately be exonerated."

The maid has not been identified, and The Associated Press generally does not name people alleging sexual assault.