Tristane Banon on DSK: 'It Makes Me Sick to See Him a Free Man, Dining in an Expensive Restaurant'

Banon’s book Erreurs Avouées [Admitted Mistakes] was published in November 2003. The chapter devoted to Strauss-Kahn was removed by the publisher, reportedly on the request of Strauss-Kahn’s entourage. The suppressed chapter was recently published by L’Express. It contains no explicit mention of a sexual aggression, but several coy allusions to Banon’s discomfort in Strauss-Kahn’s presence and what she insinuates was a sexual agenda on his part. In her interview with L’Express, Banon says that as she had decided not to file charges, she decided not to write about the alleged assault either.

But she points to a fictionalized account of the incident in her 2006 novel Trapéziste [Trapeze Artist]:

The young [character] Flore, who narrates her adventures in the political-literary milieu and who gets taken advantage of, is me. I am the young woman who, in Chapter XIII, talks about her appointment with a politician in an empty apartment and who writes, “I struggle, I hit him, I scream. He likes hearing screams. The guy is sick.” “He” is Strauss-Kahn.

Banon first spoke publicly about the incident during an appearance on a television talk show in 2007. Asked whether the version in Trapéziste “includes everything,” Banon responded, “No, I do not talk about sordid details: his fingers in my mouth, his hands in my panties after having forced opened my jeans and my bra….” “I weigh 40 kilos [88 pounds] when soaked and he was violent,” Banon continued. “Once I understood that he really wanted to rape me, I started kicking him with my boots. I was terrified and I said to him, ‘You’re not going to rape me?’ And then I managed to get away and I tore down the stairs….”

The question of whether the acts described by Banon constitute attempted rape will be crucial for Banon’s complaint against Strauss-Kahn. In French law, the statute of limitations for “mere” sexual aggression is three years. The statute of limitations for rape or attempted rape is ten years.

In an interview conducted with his biographer Michel Taubmann in March of this year, before the Sofitel incident, Strauss-Kahn rejected Banon’s account of their 2003 meeting as “imaginary.” Asked why he did not, then, sue Banon for defamation, Strauss-Kahn noted that her claims had, in any case, been largely ignored by the French media and said that he did not want to give publicity to them. In response to Banon’s complaint, Strauss-Kahn’s lawyers in France are reportedly preparing to file a defamation suit against her now.

Banon is the god-daughter of Strauss-Kahn’s second wife, Brigitte Guillemette, and was a friend of Strauss-Kahn and Guillemette’s daughter, Camille. In her interview with L’Express, she says that during the 2003 incident she reminded Strauss-Kahn of this, saying, “I’m a friend of Camille, I’m the same age.” On her account, Strauss-Kahn replied, “What does Camille have to do with it?”