No excuses for the ‘great seducer’

The raunchy escapades of French super star Dominique Strauss-Kahn, who is accused of sexually assaulting a Manhattan maid, make the Jersey Shore decadence look like the cast of Sesame Street.

How could a guy with all that baggage, who is nicknamed “The Great Seducer,” ever been seriously considered a candidate for the French presidency? The French media should have been working to expose one of the world’s most powerful predators instead of doing investigative reporting on whether First Lady Carla Bruni-Sarkozy was pregnant.

Even before “DSK,” as he’s known, was charged with sexually assaulting a maid in his $3,000-a-night hotel, it was well-known the ex-chief of the International Monetary Fund was a womanizer, whose antics smelled a lot like what we call “sexual harassment” in America. And it was the worst kind of harassment, by a person in a high place against the powerless.

Is it any wonder that the biggest outcry in France after this guy got collared by the NYPD at JFK was that the New York media dared to show pictures of him on the perp walk in handcuffs and unshaven.

France felt it was a “national humiliation” and that Strauss-Kahn was set up, but it had no problem when the media identified the West African woman who was the victim of the alleged assault. In America, we have a tradition of not identifying victims of sex crimes.

When a novelist who accused Strauss-Kahn of assaulting her appeared on French TV news, they bleeped out DSK’s name. The hypocrisies are systemic — the powerful perpetrator got protection while the victim got exposed.

Strauss-Kahn, who headed an organization reputed to have a permissive culture that fosters sexual harassment, is accused of coming out of his bathroom naked and chasing the maid around. What sounds like one of those sick French comedies ended in an alleged sexual assault on a 32-year-old widow, who was trying to raise her daughter alone in a strange country.

France, which typically sees itself as more enlightened than America, quickly concluded that New York ain’t Paris, where if a similar crime had occurred, it might never have seen the light of day. Is it any wonder that of the estimated 75,000 rapes in France each year, only 10% get reported (compared with 55% in America) with a 1% conviction rate?

Elaine Ganley of the Associated Press wrote, “So different are French laws and mores, it is conceivable that Strauss-Kahn — innocent or guilty — failed to grasp the speed by which American justice runs its course, the weight given to alleged sex offenses and the egalitarian premise on which the U.S. judicial system is based until he sat in the infamous Rikers Island prison.”

The maid, who is an immigrant from Guinea, would probably also agree America is different from her homeland, where the weak are preyed on by the powerful with impunity.

Here in America, we may like hot dogs more than foie gras, but every once in a while we do the right thing. God bless America.

 

Joe Pisani may be reached at [email protected]

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