Netflix viewers shocked by Dominique Strauss-Kahn documentary

French political figures have sparked fury after lining up to defend former IMF director Dominique Strauss-Kahn in a new Netflix documentary revisiting allegations of rape and sexual assault that cost him his job and the potential French presidency. 

Strauss-Kahn’s alleged sexual assault on hotel maid Nafissatou Diallo in May 2011 in New York City is the subject of Room 2806, a docu-series which was released on Netflix this week. 

Diallo, who worked at the Sofitel New York Hotel, claimed the married Frenchman Strauss-Kahn, known as DSK, forced himself on her on May 14 2011 while she was cleaning his room. However, the case was later dismissed on the recommendation of the DA’s office, who said she had not been truthful and questioned her credibility. 

Viewers of Room 2806 have been left shocked by events highlighted in the show, with one commenting: ‘How different her case would have been if it had happened during the #MeToo times.’ 

DSK, who resigned from his job at the IMF and had to abandon the race to become France’s president during the election of 2012, announced a separate documentary to ‘tell his version of events for the first time’ in a tweet last Tuesday. 

He has always denied the charges against him, and has claimed the nine-minute-long sexual encounter with Diallo was ‘consensual.’ 

Diallo said in September the incident had ‘ruined her life,’ and added that if Strauss-Kahn had been poor, he would be in prison. She told French magazine Paris Match the way the New York prosecutors treated her made her ‘suicidal.’ 

‘I told the truth, I was tricked and betrayed,’ she said. 

French political figures have sparked fury after lining up to defend former IMF director Dominique Strauss-Kahn in a new Netflix documentary revisiting allegations of rape and sexual assault that cost him his job and the potential French presidency. Strauss-Kahn, second right, is escorted by police in New York on Sunday, May 15, 2011

French political figures have sparked fury after lining up to defend former IMF director Dominique Strauss-Kahn in a new Netflix documentary revisiting allegations of rape and sexual assault that cost him his job and the potential French presidency. Strauss-Kahn, second right, is escorted by police in New York on Sunday, May 15, 2011

French political figures have sparked fury after lining up to defend former IMF director Dominique Strauss-Kahn in a new Netflix documentary revisiting allegations of rape and sexual assault that cost him his job and the potential French presidency. Strauss-Kahn, second right, is escorted by police in New York on Sunday, May 15, 2011

Nafissatou Diallo during a settlement hearing on her last day of the Nafissatou Diallo vs. Dominique Strauss-Kahn civil case at the New York State Supreme Court in December 2012

Nafissatou Diallo during a settlement hearing on her last day of the Nafissatou Diallo vs. Dominique Strauss-Kahn civil case at the New York State Supreme Court in December 2012

Nafissatou Diallo is pictured in July 2011

Nafissatou Diallo is pictured in July 2011

Nafissatou Diallo, pictured, said in September the incident had ‘ruined her life,’ and added that if Strauss-Kahn had been poor, he would be in prison. She said the way the New York prosecutors treated her made her ‘suicidal’ 

 

Viewers were shocked by the interviews in the documentary, which were in favor of DSK and expressed their sympathy for Diallo

Viewers were shocked by the interviews in the documentary, which were in favor of DSK and expressed their sympathy for Diallo

Viewers were shocked by the interviews in the documentary, which were in favor of DSK and expressed their sympathy for Diallo

The new Netflix documentary also tackles another allegation of attempted rape against DSK, made by French author Tristane Banon in 2002.

And it features several well-known French political figures, including former Culture Minister Jack Lang and Former Minister of Labor, Employment and Economic Inclusion Elisabeth Guigou, who line up to defend DSK. 

The latter questioned why Strauss-Kahn would need to ‘resort’ to rape, citing his ‘intelligence and brilliance’ – comments which have been described as ‘nauseating’ and ‘disgusting’ by viewers.    

Viewers were left shocked by docu-series on Dominique Strauss-Kahn's rape allegations

Viewers were left shocked by docu-series on Dominique Strauss-Kahn's rape allegations

Viewers were left shocked by docu-series on Dominique Strauss-Kahn’s rape allegations

Those views sparked fury from viewers with one commenting:  ‘Can’t help but get frustrated with the apologists on #room2806. An older man with white hair says “I’ve never seen him do anything like this.” 

‘Well, are you a young woman? No, so of course you never saw that side of him lol!!’

Another said: ‘They called his sexual assault an affair ?!?!!?’

And one viewer noted: ‘Tried to watch Netflix’s #Room2806 & had to stop. Wow – Nafissatou Diallo went up against the entire system & boy did they make her pay for it, while DSK got off with but a wrinkle on his record. 

‘How different her case would have been if it had happened during the #MeToo times.’

Diallo said she received death threats and had to move out of her apartment to a safe house outside of New York during the legal proceedings against DSK, which lasted from May to August 2011. 

She now runs a West African restaurant in The Bronx, while DSK – who split from his journalist wife Anne Sinclair in 2012 – took up positions on the board of two financial institutions in Russia and Ukraine as well as offering financial advice to the governments of South Sudan and Serbia. 

Former French Culture Minister Jack Lang, right, pictured in 2020 with former French President Francois Hollande, praised DSK's intellect in the documentary and asked 'should a president not be a sensual man'

Former French Culture Minister Jack Lang, right, pictured in 2020 with former French President Francois Hollande, praised DSK's intellect in the documentary and asked 'should a president not be a sensual man'

Former French Minister for Labour Elisabeth Guigou, pictured in 2016, said that DSK 'paid attention to pretty women' but that it 'was not a crime' in the docu-series

Former French Minister for Labour Elisabeth Guigou, pictured in 2016, said that DSK 'paid attention to pretty women' but that it 'was not a crime' in the docu-series

Former French Minister for Labour Elisabeth Guigou, pictured right in 2016, said that DSK ‘paid attention to pretty women’ but that it ‘was not a crime’ in the docu-series. Former French Culture Minister Jack Lang pictured left in 2020 with former French President Francois Hollande, far left praised DSK’s intellect in the documentary

Strauss-Kahn and his wife Anne Sinclair in New York arriving at the Manhattan Supreme Court on August 23 2011

Strauss-Kahn and his wife Anne Sinclair in New York arriving at the Manhattan Supreme Court on August 23 2011

Strauss-Kahn and his wife Anne Sinclair in New York arriving at the Manhattan Supreme Court on August 23 2011

How the 2011 Sofitel scandal unfolded 

The Sofitel scandal erupted in May 2011 when maid Nafissatou Diallo accused International Monetary Fund boss Dominique Strauss-Kahn of having sexually assaulted her.   

At the time, DSK was the favorite in the upcoming French presidential election of 2012, but the case blew his chances of making it to the Élysée Palace and cost him his job as the head of the IMF.

The hotel put in a 911 call after Diallo alerted her manager about the incident. She was taken to hospital where it was recorded sperm had been found on her blouse. 

When Diallo led police into the Presidential Suite, where DSK had been staying and allegedly sexually assaulted her, they found a specimen of the IMF boss’s sperm on the floor and the walls of the corridor she pointed to. 

DSK was arrested by the police at JFK just moments before his plane was due to take off.  

After the case was filed against him by the State of New York on behalf of Nafissatou Diallo, DKS posted a $1million bail and was put under house arrest in New York, at a property rented by his wife Anne Sinclair. 

He pleaded non guilty to four felony charges: two criminal sex acts – including forced oral sex – attempted rape and sexual abuse, as well as unlawful imprisonment.

Because of DSK’s high profile and long political career – he was France’s Finance Minister from 1997 to 1999 under President Jacques Chirac – conspiracies theories abounded. 

After his arrest, a poll showed 57 percent of French voters believed he was the victim of a smear campaign and prominent French political figures came forward saying they believed he had been framed by his political opponents.

In July 2011, the prosecution asked for the charges against DSK to be dropped on the basis that Diallo had been ‘persistently, and at times inexplicably, untruthful in describing matters of both great and small significance.’

This was based on the fact Diallo changed her story several times after the case was filed and the fact physical evidence showed no sign of violence.

It was also found the single-mother had lied on the asylum application she had filed to escape Guinea and move to the US with her daughter.  

The civil suit was officially dismissed in August of the same year and Dominique Strauss-Kahn swiftly returned to France.

In an interview with French media upon his return, DSK eventually conceded he had had a sexual affair with Diallo, which he called a ‘moral failure,’ but denied the use of violence.

Later, the suit between Diallo and DSK was settled, for a sum which has never been confirmed officially, at the request of both parties, but was estimated to have been in the region of $1.5million. 

Diallo was not heard from again until September this year, when she gave an interview to French magazine Paris Match, saying the incident had ‘ruined her life,’ and added that if DSK had been poor, he would be in prison. 

‘I told the truth, I was tricked and betrayed,’ she said. ‘I will never get over how the New York prosecutors treated me. Due to what they put me through, I’ve been suicidal, I was called a prostitute.’

Diallo said she received death threats and had to move out of her apartment to a safe house outside of New York during the legal proceedings.

Yet, she said she did not regret reporting the politician to the police.

‘If I had to do it over again, I would. I would do exactly the same thing. Something happened to me, I told the truth and I was denied justice,’ she said.

She runs a West African restaurant in The Bronx and has stated her intention to set up a charity for victims of sexual abuse.  

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The documentary series also recounted how many members of DSK’s Socialist Party shared their sympathy for the IMF boss and his family when the scandal erupted, and made no mention of the alleged victim Diallo in their public statements. 

Jack Lang, who served as Culture Minister from from 1981 to 1986 and again from 1988 to 1993, as well as Minister of National Education from 1992 to 1993 and 2000 to 2002, repeated his support in the documentary, saying that DSK was a ‘sensual man.’

He praised DSK’s ‘exuberance, his dazzling intelligence, his authenticity’ and recalled how the presidential hopeful had an affair in D.C., while working for the IMF before the Sofitel scandal, saying: ‘Love is not a conspiracy by the devil.   

‘He’s perhaps more drawn to the romantic side of things.  So what? So what,’ Lang added. 

‘Should the president not be a sensual man?’ he asked. 

Lang, who said DSK was a ‘breath of fresh air’ in the political landscape of the 1980s when they both debuted their political career, said he was particularly shocked by the ‘perp walk’ Strauss-Kahn had to take after his arrest in New York. 

‘This man who is head of an international organization, no less, and who is human after all, to be presented like some kind of devil, and named and shamed according to the old American tradition. That’s something that profoundly irks me,’ he said. 

Meanwhile, Guigou, who served in the same government as Lang in 2000 and 2002 as Minister of Labor, said DSK ‘paid attention to women, but he wasn’t the only one.’ 

Speaking of when the Sofitel scandal blew up in France, she said: ‘We knew that Dominique was a womanizer, but there is a big difference between being a seducer and using violence.’

‘In fact, why would he need to resort to that? He is a charming, brilliant, intelligent man. 

‘We knew he paid attention to pretty women, but he wasn’t the only one and that’s not a crime,’ she added.  

The documentary spanned DSK’s rise to power as a modern politician and economist, before touching on the Sofitel affair, his fall from grace and the following court hearings resulting in a dismissal. 

It also dived into other rape allegations against DSK, notably some made by French author Tristane Banon.  

Banon’s mother, a French MP, came out in 2011, claiming her daughter had been sexually assaulted by DSK during an interview in 2002.  

Banon herself claimed that, during a talk with the politician for a book she was working on at the time, Strauss-Kahn propositioned her and later tried to coerce her into sex before she could flee. 

Viewers were also shocked by comments made by French TV presenter and producer Thierry Ardisson, who received Banon on the set of his informal dinner show filmed in 2008. 

In an uncomfortable sequence, Banon could be heard recounting her experience with DSK while the male guests of the show were laughing and commenting as if she was telling a good story. 

Ardisson explained on the docu-series: ‘She was one of those cute girls, that appear a bit in magazines, on TV.

‘She wasn’t well-known, but she had done a book on politicians worse mistakes,’ he added. 

The documentary then cut to the 2008 interview, where Tristane told a group of guests having dinner on the show: ‘I arrived, parked my car, went upstairs.  

‘He insisted that I hold his hand, he wouldn’t answer otherwise. And then it was the arm, and gradually… so I stopped. 

‘He undid my bra and jeans,’ she told the group, with Ardisson interjecting: ‘I love it.’

Ardisson explained his reaction during the documentary.  

‘When I say “I love it” it’s because it can tell this is juicy, it’s gonna create buzz. “I love it,” I’m not saying I love rape,’ he said. 

‘I can’t say I was shocked. Politicians that pounce on young women, it was common and still is,’ he added. 

‘The libertinism and debauchery of the 18th century that’s part of the culture.’ 

Meanwhile, speaking of the same interview, Tristane said in the docu-series:  ‘When I’m smiling like that, and playing the part of the silly blonde, it’s because I’m extremely uncomfortable, which many women do. 

‘This is well before MeToo, so it was still seen as really funny by a lot of guys. It was funny because no one had explained that it wasn’t.’ 

Strauss-Kahn sits in federal court May 16, 2011 in New York City

Strauss-Kahn sits in federal court May 16, 2011 in New York City

Strauss-Kahn sits in federal court May 16, 2011 in New York City

Room 2806 viewers were left feeling very uncomfortable by the comments made by the French personalities in the documentary.  

‘I am disgusted with half of the French people in Room 2806,’ one said. 

‘They did Nafissatou Diallo dirty. All because she didn’t fit their image of the perfect victim. I’ll always believe her story. Also, something about this doc doesn’t feel as impartial as it should be. DSK is put on a pedestal at every opportunity, it’s overwhelming,’ said another. 

Who is DSK, Dominique Strauss-Kahn? 

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, often referred to as ‘DSK,’ is a French politician who headed the International Monetary Fund (IMF) from  1 November 2007  to 18 May 2011.

He was France’s Finance Minister from 1997 to 1999 under President Jacques Chirac, and was recognised as one of the country’s most prominent economic experts. 

He announced his candidacy in the French presidential election of 2012 and was a favourite against returning president Nicolas Sarkozy. 

In 2011, he was at the heart of the Sofitel New York Hotel scandal, when hotel maid Nafissatou Diallo accused him of sexually assaulting her. 

At the time, he was married to French media personality Anne Sinclair. The couple had been together since the early 1990s.  

This cost him his role as IMF chief and blew up his chances to win the presidency in the upcoming election. 

Following the scandal,  Sinclair and DSK separated in 2013 and were divorced in 2013. 

Since the scandal, DSK has resumed work and scored several high profile jobs, including advisor to Sudan and Serbia.

He’s also given a number of lectures in Asia from 2014.  

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‘Room 2806 is the epitome of what’s wrong with the world. And I feel so sorry for Nafissatou Diallo, who unfortunately has to relive this horror all over again just to prove a point,’ another said. 

‘This DSK sexual assault investigation documentary is WILD,’ said another. 

‘Currently watching Room2806. The nonchalant attitudes of the people interviewed and their views regarding sexual assault and rape…absolutely nauseating,’ said one. 

‘Just another documentary about the worst human behavior ,power abuse and disgust found in politicians,; another said. 

‘That wistful smile playing over the lips of Dominique Strauss-Kahn’s wife and associates as they play off his behavior as “affairs” and him being a “red blooded male.” Honestly I’m at the point where I’m going to start boxing some ears,’ one wrote. 

After the case was filed against him by the State of New York on behalf of Nafissatou Diallo, DKS posted a $1million bail and was put under house arrest in New York.

His supportive wife Anne Sinclair, who was a well-known journalist and media personality in France, traveled to New York to be with her husband of twenty years and rented a luxury studio where the couple stayed during DSK’s house arrest. 

Sinclair was the heiress to a massive family fortune which, it was claimed, financed DSK’s political ambitions.  

Sinclair stayed by her husband’s side throughout the legal proceedings and never said she doubted his innocence. 

However, the couple separated a year later in 2012 and were officially divorced in 2013. 

In 2017, Sinclair told French Vanity Fair she has ‘no idea’ that her husband had been unfaithful. 

‘I may be naive, stupid, perhaps. I trusted him, I never monitored him,’ she said, French magazine Le Point recounted at the time. 

Tristane Banon, pictured in 2011, accused Strauss-Kahn of trying to rape her in 2002 during an interview for a book she was working on

Tristane Banon, pictured in 2011, accused Strauss-Kahn of trying to rape her in 2002 during an interview for a book she was working on

Tristane Banon, pictured in 2011, accused Strauss-Kahn of trying to rape her in 2002 during an interview for a book she was working on

He pleaded non guilty to four felony charges, including two criminal sex acts – including forced oral sex -, attempted rape and sexual abuse, as well as unlawful imprisonment.

Because of DSK’s high profile and long political career – he was France’s Finance Minister from 1997 to 1999 under President Jacques Chirac – conspiracies theories multiplied.

After his arrest, a poll showed 57 percent of French voters believed he was the victim of a smear campaign and prominent French political figures came forward saying they believed he had been framed by his political opponents.

In July 2011, the prosecution asked for the charges against DSK to be dropped on the basis that Diallo had been ‘persistently, and at times inexplicably, untruthful in describing matters of both great and small significance.’

This was based on the fact Diallo changed her story several times after the case was filed and the fact physical evidence showed no sign of violence.

The civil suit was officially dismissed in August of the same year and Dominique Strauss-Kahn swiftly returned to France.

In an interview with French media upon his return, DSK eventually conceded he had had a sexual affair with Diallo, which he called a ‘moral failure,’ but denied the use of violence.

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