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Strauss-Kahn Indicted on Sex Crime Charges, Headed for House Arrest

May 19, 2011 at 12:00 AM EDT
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JIM LEHRER: One of the world’s top financial leaders won restricted bail freedom today after resigning and being formally charged with sex crimes in New York.

In less than 24 hours, Dominique Strauss-Kahn stepped down as head of the International Monetary Fund and then learned he had been indicted. He also won his release from jail in New York City. The resignation came overnight, five days after Strauss-Kahn was accused of attempted rape and sexual assault on a hotel maid.

In a letter to the IMF’s board, he wrote, in part, “I want to say that I deny with the greatest possible firmness all of the allegations that have been made against me.” But he went on to say, “I want to protect this institution and devote all my strength, all my time and all my energy to proving my innocence.”

This afternoon came word of the indictment formalizing the charges.

WILLIAM TAYLOR, attorney for Dominique Strauss-Kahn: There is now an indictment. The first phase of this case seems to be over. It makes clear what the charges are, although I haven’t seen it. But, in any event, we know what the course — what the next course will be. And it will not be short.

JIM LEHRER: The news emerged as a New York judge ordered Strauss-Kahn released on $1 million bail, but placed him under house arrest with armed guards.

JUDGE MICHAEL J. OBUS, New York State Supreme Court: And, as I said before, we are not interested in collecting the bail money. We want the defendant to be present. And I agree with the people and with the criminal court judge who remanded the defendant that money alone is simply not sufficient under the circumstances.

JIM LEHRER: He’s expected to go free tomorrow once the paperwork is completed.

Meanwhile, the jockeying to find a new head of the IMF began in earnest. German Chancellor Angela Merkel argued it should go to a European, as is tradition, especially given the continent’s debt crisis.

ANGELA MERKEL, German chancellor (through translator): In the present situation, when we have significant problems with the euro — and the IMF is very much involved there — there are arguments to propose a European candidate and support him in the international community.

JIM LEHRER: The sentiment was much the same in Brussels at a meeting on Eurozone debt.

OLLI REHN, European commissioner for economic affairs: From the European point of view, it is essential that the appointment will be merit-based. And in this current juncture, it is a merit if the person has quite solid knowledge of the European economy and decision-making.

JIM LEHRER: But, in Beijing, the Chinese government said it’s time to break Europe’s monopoly on the post.

JIANG YU, Chinese foreign ministry (through translator): In principle, we believe developing countries should be better represented at senior levels.

JIM LEHRER: The U.S. took no position, at least not publicly. Instead, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner called for an open process that leads to a prompt succession.

One leading candidate had already emerged, French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde, a friend and colleague of Strauss-Kahn. The IMF’s executive board was meeting today to begin considering Strauss-Kahn’s successor. It was unclear how long that process might take.