DSK Is Done: Latest Scandal Nixes Prospect of a Return to French Public Life

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Former IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn, surrounded by reporters, leaves a polling station for the Socialist Party's primary vote, in Sarcelles, next to Paris, Sunday Oct. 16, 2011. (Photo: Yoan Valat / AP)

At this point, writing an update on the continuing travails of former International Monetary Fund chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn seems a bit like flogging a deader than dead horse. But because unfolding developments appear to be delivering the coup de grace to any hopes Strauss-Kahn had of returning to public life–and reportedly destroying his private life, too–it’s probably worth bringing the tale of his decline to its apparent, dismal end.

As mentioned briefly last month, unsubstantiated allegations and leaks from an on-going investigation into a high-priced prostitution ring in Lille appear to tie DSK to yet another reputation-sinking sex scandal. With all earlier legal action apart from a Brooklyn civil suit against him having been dropped, Strauss-Kahn has reacted to press reports linking his name to the Lille inquiry furiously—demanding he be interrogated so he can clear himself. Just the opposite has happened: the investigation has continued turning up new suspects thought to have been central to the prostitution ring, and collected growing evidence DSK had relied on them to procure sexual services in both France and the U.S. But the man himself has yet to be summoned for questioning despite the swirl of damning media attention around him.

That Strauss-Kahn himself hasn’t been called in by magistrates running the inquiry is odd, given what press accounts depict as ample testimony and textual evidence indicating DSK used the prostitution operation to assuage his allegedly considerable sexual appetites. At this point, the main question is whether any of the new revelations prove criminal as far as DSK is concerned, since Strauss-Kahn’s public reputation and moral standing can scarcely be harmed any worse than they were by earlier attempted rape accusations. Still, it took the escalating Lille scandal for observers to agree that Strauss-Kahn’s career in French politics is now definitely over.

The main suspects in the Lille case include police top brass, regional governmental officials, political hangers-on, and executives from a large construction company—all of whom allegedly had a hand in the functioning of the ring. As things now appear, it’s probable those men who will eventually be tried for pimping offenses, as well as related financial illegalities. If it’s established Strauss-Kahn did indeed use the ring’s sexual services, authorities must then decide if he could be charged for abetting pimping by virtue of having paid for the ring’s services. If he didn’t, officials would look into whether DSK might not have been the indirect beneficiary of embezzled corporate funds—ie. that his encounters might have been paid for by executives of the construction group using creative billing to charge them to their company as expenses. If so, the question then would turn to what those managers expected in return for their unsavory generosity.

Based on what he’s already lost personally—his nailed-on status as France’s next president, and a sterling political reputation—those legal threats may seem less dire than they might once have to Strauss-Kahn. Nevertheless, he seems conspicuously alone and without friends. Articles have been proliferating in the past week with (largely anonymous) quotes from fellow Socialist politicians lamenting their former champion’s apparently self-inflicted fall. In addition to the many comments expressing disbelief and anger that Strauss-Kahn could have been so recklessly self-indulgent, reports have also carried comments mixing disgust and relief that at least France and the world learned of DSK’s dark and uncontrolled side “before he became president of the country.” And whereas even two months ago pundits and Socialist officials alike spoke openly about the possibility of Strauss-Kahn rebounding form his New York drama to one day assume a non-executive role in public life, the growing scandal from Lille has created a consensus that DSK now definitively done.

And that may not be the worst it for Strauss-Kahn. Today’s le Parisien paper carries two full pages of articles on the damage the Lille inquiry is having on DSK’s home life. Most troubling for him, almost certainly, are what le Parisien calls the doubts that Strauss-Kahn’s wife, Anne Sinclair, now has about sticking with the man she unwaveringly backed since the scandals kicked off in May. Were that not bad enough, the paper also reports that Sinclair—who, as the heiress of a large family fortune, is the wealthy half of the couple—has closed all their joint bank accounts, and says there’s no question of her financing a possible out-of-court settlement with her husband’s New York accuser, Nafissatou Diallo, in her civil case against him.

Given all of that, it wouldn’t be surprising if Strauss-Kahn were not only too happy to concede his career is indeed over—and also plead for the storms that broke out and rocked him since May, too, to finally come to an end.