France suit won't affect US Strauss-Kahn case: experts

WASHINGTON, July 5, 2011 (AFP) - Sexual assault allegations against former IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn in France are unlikely to affect his New York trial for allegedly attempting to rape a hotel maid, according to experts.

French writer Tristan Banon, 32, was set to file a lawsuit on Tuesday against Strauss-Kahn for attempted rape several years ago, while Strauss-Kahn's lawyers have in turn threatened to bring a defamation suit against her.

AFP - A combination of two images of Dominique Strauss-Kahn and (at R) a picture taken in 2004 of French journalist and writer Tristane Banon

But those proceedings are unlikely to have much effect on Strauss-Kahn's trial in New York, where he was recently released on bail after prosecutors raised doubts about the credibility of the maid accusing him of sexual assault.

"Ms. Banon's complaint is not likely to change anything... The prosecution can't use it," said Matthew Galluzzo, a former New York sex crimes prosecutor.

He and other experts said US law would make it extremely difficult to introduce the French case as evidence against Strauss-Kahn.

"American law is very restrictive about the use of other crimes or wrongs as proof in a criminal case," Ian Weinstein, a law professor at New York City's Fordham University, told AFP.

"This is a complex area of law, but suffice it to say that pending French charges would have little or no impact on the American case and even a French conviction would have limited impact."

Prosecutor John McConnell appeared to allude to Banon's charges during a May 16 hearing, saying Strauss-Kahn had "engaged in conduct similar to the conduct alleged in this complaint on at least one other occasion" outside the US.

But Strauss-Kahn's attorney Benjamin Brafman swiftly replied that the defense could not respond to allegations made outside the United States and that did not result in criminal proceedings.

The subject has not been raised since then.

The US allegations against Strauss-Kahn have rippled across France -- where he was considered a serious contender for the presidency -- and led to his replacement as head of the International Monetary Fund during the global lender's efforts to address the eurozone debt crisis.

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