NEW YORK – Lawyers for the New York hotel maid and the French novelist who have accused Dominique Strauss-Kahn of trying to rape them separately met jointly Tuesday with prosecutors, but it wasn't immediately clear what the prospects were for convergence between complaints on two continents.
Attorneys for the maid and for writer Tristane Banon wouldn't say what they'd discussed as they emerged after roughly 2½ hours in the Manhattan district attorney's office. The maid's lawyer, Kenneth P. Thompson, said only that he was seeking justice for his client, whose credibility has come under fire since prosecutors said she wasn't truthful about her background and her actions right after Strauss-Kahn allegedly attacked her in his hotel suite May 14.
"The truth is that she was sexually assaulted in that room, and the truth matters, and what we want is for her to be able to tell her account, and we want Dominique Strauss-Kahn to be held accountable for what he did to her," said Thompson, who has been urging prosecutors to press ahead with a case they say has been undermined by her untruths. "It is our hope and our prayer that the truth will come out."
Although Banon's lawyer, David Koubbi, previously said she wouldn't become involved in the U.S. case, prosecutors here have long intimated they were interested in finding out more about the writer's allegations, and Tuesday's meeting was planned for them to get more information. At Strauss-Kahn's first New York court appearance, a prosecutor noted reports of "similar" conduct abroad, an apparent allusion to Banon's claim that Strauss-Kahn tried to rape her in 2003 while she was interviewing him for a book.
After Strauss-Kahn's arrest, Banon filed a criminal complaint over the alleged incident; her mother has said she discouraged her daughter from reporting it in 2003. Authorities in Paris have launched a preliminary investigation. Strauss-Kahn denies both women's allegations.
The Associated Press does not name victims of alleged sex crimes unless they agree to be identified or publicly identify themselves, as Banon has.
Thompson accompanied Banon's lawyer, David Koubbi, to Tuesday's meeting. Also there was Thibault de Montbrial, a French attorney working with Thompson to see whether anyone else in France may have similar allegations against Strauss-Kahn.
Thompson has had a touchy relationship with prosecutors in recent weeks, publicly questioning whether Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr. had the stomach to go through with the case and ultimately calling on Vance to recuse his office and arrange for a special prosecutor. The DA's office rebuffed that request as baseless.
Thompson declined to answer a question Tuesday about his dealings with the DA's office.
Koubbi and the DA's office declined to comment on Tuesday's meeting. Prosecutors have said they're still investigating and deciding what to do with the New York case in light of their doubts about whether the housekeeper will make a believable witness. Strauss-Kahn's lawyers are urging them to drop the charges.
If prosecutors do pursue the case, it's unclear whether they would be able to bring up Banon at a potential trial. New York law limits mention of allegations beyond the actual charges in a case. But some exceptions could give prosecutors an opening to broach Banon's allegation, especially if Strauss-Kahn were to assert the New York episode was consensual or have witnesses speak to his good character, experts say.
Meanwhile, Banon posted a message on Facebook on Tuesday thanking supporters for defending her against heavy criticism on several French websites. Skeptics have cast doubt on her credibility and questioned her motives for filing the legal complaint eight years late.
Authorities in Paris have questioned one of Strauss-Kahn's daughters, one of his ex-wives, Banon and her mother. Officials also are expected to question former Socialist Party chief Francois Hollande, who is seeking the party's nomination for next year's presidential elections. Strauss-Kahn was considered a strong contender for the nomination until his New York arrest.
Banon's lawyer has said Hollande was told of the 2003 incident between Strauss-Kahn and Banon.
Associated Press Writer Pierre-Antoine Souchard in Paris contributed to this report.
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