(Photo: Reuters / Lucas Jackson)
In a television interview that attracted more than 13 million viewers, Dominique Strauss-Kahn admitted that his sexual encounter with a maid in a New York City hotel room was a "grave moral mistake" but definitely not rape.
The former IMF chief's interview with TF1 on Sunday attracted the largest audience for a French news broadcast since 2005, according to Reuters, revealing how desirous the public was to know how Strauss-Kahn would handle himself upon returning to his home country.
"What happened involved neither violence nor constraint: no criminal act," Stauss-Kahn told the interviewer, describing his sexual encounter in May with Nafissatou Diallo as a "moral failing of which I am not proud."
He emphasized that police found "no scratches, no wounds, no sign of violence" on the Diallo's body.
Although Strauss-Kahn expressed "infinite" regret over the so-called consensual encounter with Diallo, the Sofitel hotel maid who accused the 62-year-old married man of sexually assaulting her, the Frenchman's presentation during the interview turned off much of the public, according to French media.
Strauss-Kahn's manner in the TF1 interview was being called half-hearted, egotistical and insincere, according to media reports.
The former IMF chief, who had also been hoping to run for the French presidency in 2012, apparently disappointed viewers by suggesting that his encounter with Diallo, 32, was perhaps part of a trap set by his political adversaries.
Another woman, 31-year-old French writer Tristane Banon, has also accused Strauss-Kahn of attempted rape, which he called "imaginary" and "slanderous," according to CBS News.
The TF1 interview was the first instance in which Strauss-Kahn shared his side in the sex assault case that resulted in him resigning as IMF chief and giving up hope of a presidential campaign.
Prosecutors dropped their case against Strauss-Kahn after they began doubting Diallo's credibility.
Before the TF1 interview Sunday, Diallo's attorneys issued a statement, saying, "If Mr. Strauss-Kahn thinks that people in France will really believe that he was able to convince Ms. Diallo, who had never met him before and did not know that he was in the room, to engage in sexual acts with him within a matter of minutes, then he should describe how that happened."
Diallo's attorneys have filed a civil lawsuit.
In addition to the civil case in New York, Strauss-Kahn will also have to address allegations brought against him by Banon in the French courts.