NY police look for DNA in hotel carpet in IMF case

Published 9:02 pm Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Police cut out a piece of carpet from a hotel room in a search for DNA evidence in the attempted-rape case against IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn, law enforcement officials told The Associated Press on Wednesday.

New York Police Department detectives and prosecutors believe the carpet may contain Strauss-Khan’s semen spat onto the carpet after an episode of forced oral sex, the officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity. That would be crucial forensic evidence to back up the victim’s story, the officials said.

Investigators painstakingly scrubbed the penthouse suite at the Sofitel Hotel for further potential DNA evidence they believe could link Strauss-Kahn to an alleged assault that has become an international scandal, the officials said.

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They were also looking at the woman’s hotel keycard to determine whether she used it to enter the room, and for how long she was there.

The second official said that the DNA testing was being “fast-tracked,” but that the results could still be a few days away.

The two officials spoke on condition of anonymity because neither was authorized to speak about the case publicly, and because it has gone to a grand jury.

Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly declined to comment on Wednesday on the details of evidence-gathering but said results of any DNA and other testing have not yet come back.

He said the detectives investigating the case determined the woman to be credible.

“This is all they do; they investigate these types of crimes,” Kelly said of the special victims’ detectives. “Obviously, the credibility of the complainant is a factor in cases of this nature. One of the things they’re trained to look for, and what was reported to me early on, was that the complainant was credible.”

The Manhattan district attorney’s office declined to comment on Wednesday, as did one of Strauss-Khan’s attorneys, Benjamin Brafman.

The jailed Strauss-Kahn is one of France’s most high-profile politicians and a potential candidate for president in next year’s elections. His arrest on charges including attempted rape shocked France.

Brafman has said at his client’s arraignment this week that defense lawyers believe the forensic evidence “will not be consistent with a forcible encounter.”

The victim is a 32-year-old chambermaid from the West African nation of Guinea, authorities said. Her lawyer, Jeffrey Shapiro, dismissed suggestions that she had made up the charges or tried to cover up a consensual encounter.

“This is nothing other than a physical, sexual assault by this man on this young woman,” Shapiro said.

Strauss-Kahn, 62, is also charged with sex abuse, a criminal sex act, unlawful imprisonment and forcible touching. The most serious charge carries five to 25 years in prison.