Scandal on the world stage

Scandal on the world stage

May 17th, 2011 in Opinion Free Press

Despite all the war, political conflicts, economic problems, natural disasters and other major events in our troubled world, there's unfortunately nothing quite like an international sex scandal to seize public attention.

Probably most of us had never heard of, or certainly had paid little attention to, a 62-year-old Frenchman named Dominique Strauss-Kahn - until this week.

And too few of us may have paid much personal attention to the important workings of the International Monetary Fund before now.

But in France, Monsieur Strauss-Kahn, the head of the IMF and a 62-year-old married father of four, was well known. In fact, he was reported to be the challenger most likely to defeat France's President Nicolas Sarkozy in elections next year.

But then came disturbing events involving him in New York. Strauss-Kahn checked into a $3,000-a-night suite Friday in the luxury Sofitel hotel near Times Square. Why was he in New York? It wasn't clear. The IMF is in Washington, and Strauss-Kahn was scheduled to be in Germany two days later, to meet Chancellor Angela Merkel.

At any rate, according to news reports, when a 32-year-old maid entered what she thought was the unoccupied suite on Saturday, the Frenchman was there. He reportedly was naked, and allegedly grabbed the maid and sexually assaulted her. She was said to have fought him off, broken free and fled.

Strauss-Kahn later went to John F. Kennedy International Airport to board a plane to Europe. But New York City police were alerted. They contacted the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, and he was removed from his first-class seat just before his flight took off. Police took him to a Harlem police precinct, where the maid reportedly identified him in a lineup.

The Frenchman has denied all charges. He will remain in jail at least until Friday, when he will have his next court hearing. Prosecutors believe he is a flight risk.

This obviously is not the end of a sordid story, which is deeply troubling to the maid, the accused, their respective families and the IMF itself.

After his planned Sunday meeting in Berlin, Strauss-Kahn had more scheduled meetings Monday and today in Belgium with European Union finance ministers, concerning more IMF aid to ease Greece's financial crisis.

Those meetings clearly will be delayed.

Many problems in our world are not simple and may result from honest disagreements among different parties.

But many other problems might be avoided by proper conduct.