Did Dominique Strauss-Kahn Try To Rape Tristane Banon?
Seven ways to check his story and hers against the evidence.
2. The tape recorder. In her 2007 account, Banon said, "I put down the tape recorder immediately to record. He wanted me to hold his hand while he answered, because he told me: 'I won't be able to if you don't hold my hand.' And after that, from my hand, he went to my arm, and then a bit higher." In her latest account, she says that after Strauss-Kahn held her hand and she told him she wanted to leave, "He stopped the dictaphone, grabbed my hand and arm," and the struggle began. If these accounts are true, then she had a tape recording of him asking to hold her hand, which would falsify his depiction of their interview as normal. Where is the recording?
3. The call to Mom. Banon says, "I managed to free myself, I ran downstairs, I found myself in my car, I called my mother because I could not even drive, I was shaking so much." Does Banon's mother recall this conversation?
4. The parking ticket. Banon says she got a "PV" (French parking ticket) at the meter where she parked for the interview. Where's the ticket? The address would help nail down the apartment's location, and the time could be checked against Strauss-Kahn's schedule. It could also be compared with his phone records to see whether he called Michel Field afterward.
5. The text messages. Banon says that after she left the meeting, Strauss-Kahn "sent me a text message straight away saying: 'So, are you afraid of me?' in a provocative tone. … After that, he was continually sending me text messages." Do her phone records show these text messages? If so, how could Strauss-Kahn explain them?
6. The apology. Strauss-Kahn says that in the last four years, he and Banon's mother, a fellow Socialist politician, have run into each other two or three times at party events. According to Strauss-Kahn's biographer, "They talked about the accusations against him by the young writer. And have, according to him, left on good terms, as if this case was a misunderstanding." But Banon's mother says that in one conversation, Strauss-Kahn told her, "Je sais pas ce qui m'a pris, j'ai pété un plomb." Roughly translated, that means: "I don't know what came over me. I lost my mind." This report from Banon's mother doesn't depend on anything her daughter said. It's a direct quote from Strauss-Kahn. How does he explain it? Is the mother delusional as well as the daughter?
7. Francois Hollande. Banon says Francois Hollande, who was then the head of the Socialist Party, knew about her victimization, called her about it, and recommended that she pursue a complaint. But Hollande says he has "no knowledge of the facts, real or imagined" and was "never aware" of such grave allegations. Banon now says of Hollande, "He lies." Does he? Or does his failure to confirm her recollection undermine her credibility?
Either way, Banon deserves to have her story tested against the evidence. Maybe it will discredit her. Maybe it will discredit Strauss-Kahn. What's important is to focus on corroboration and falsification, not on who wins or loses. Forget the case in New York. Set aside your prejudices about rich men and rape accusers. Banon, like Strauss-Kahn, is entitled to a fair hearing and thorough scrutiny. Don't take her word for what happened. Don't take his, either.
Will Saletan covers science, technology, and politics for Slate and says a lot of things that get him in trouble.
Photograph of Dominique Strauss-Kahn by Fred Dufour/AFP/Getty Images.