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Tristane Banon

Tristane BanonDominique Strauss-Kahn's attempted rape accuser Tristane Banon wrote a book about an assault by a man she calls the baboon. After going public with the accusation of rape she found herself in the midst of a media frenzy and the object of internet postings labeling her an opportunist.

But, what is so opportune about being referred to as a liar or a promiscuous publicity seeker? Fact is, the French authorities have concluded from their investigation that the incident between Banon and Dominique Strauss-Kahn amounted to sexual assualt, a lessor offence under French law, but nevertheless, a serious crime punishable by law. The only problem is that French law states that it cannot be prosecuted if a complaint is made more than three years after the alleged incident. But for eight years, being advised by her mother and her friends to keep silent, Banon said she did not find the courage to bring a criminal complaint against the powerful Strauss-Kahn, whose second wife was her godmother.

Now she is more than likely a marked woman whose revelations about being preyed upon by an influential politician and well-known womanizer will bring her more difficulties than opportunity. But, come forth she did and to her credit she made a very public statement that powerful individuals are not above the law - that their conduct can return to haunt them - and it already has him in the spotlight again. He has been implicated in a prostitution scandal in Lille and now faces more investigations. So, all those who were critical of Tristane Banon must now face the truth about his behaviour and rethink their criticisms of her. On 5 February 2007, during a television chat-show, Banon had alleged that Dominique Strauss-Kahn had attempted to rape her in 2002 during the course of an interview while she was researching Erreurs avouées. "It ended really badly.

We ended up fighting. It finished really violently and I used the word rape to scare him but it didn't seem to scare him that much..." Strauss-Kahn's name was initially bleeped out when the television program was broadcast. But later the news website AgoraVox repeated the allegations with his name included and Banon subsequently repeated them on a video recording. Banon's mother, Socialist Party politician Anne Mansouret, admitted in an interview that she had persuaded her daughter not to file charges at the time of the alleged rape attempt.

Tristane BanonThis French writer came forward to accuse Dominique Strauss-Kahn of attempting to rape her when she went to interview him has written a book about the incident and the effects it has had on her life. The book that Tristane Banon wrote is Le Bal des Hypocrites (English: The Hypocrites' Ball).

This occurred after Strauss-Kahn, once the French Socialist Party presidential candidate in waiting, was arrested and accused of the sexual assault and attempted rape of a New York hotel maid in May of 2011. She spent several weeks undecided as to whether or not to go ahead and press charges aginst him, but when the US court case against Strauss-Kahn fell apart in August she made a formal complaint to the Paris prosecutor. The New York case was dismissed due to doubts about the credibility of the accuser and Strauss-Kahn returned to France with his hopes of leading the country in doubt. Strauss-Kahn has admitted to French police investigators that claims made by Banon were true to an extent, that he made a pass at her, trying to kiss her, but denies any violence and had his lawyers initiate a countersuit for defamation against Banon.

After a face to face meeting between Banon and Strauss-Kahn with police officials, the Paris prosecutor's office found there was not enough evidence to support the rape charges, even though authorities said Strauss-Kahn admitted to sexual aggression against her. Strauss-Kahn referred to the allegations made by Tristane Banon as imaginary. “The scene she describes is imaginary,” he said in an authorized biography published this year. “Do you see me throwing a woman on the floor and being violent, as she claims?” Banon described the former IMF head as behaving like a "rutting chimpanzee" during the alleged attack at an unfurnished Paris apartment.

Tristane BanonBanon does not directly name Strauss-Kahn in her book, Le Bal des Hypocrites, but describes a man who had lured her to his flat and who she claims she had to fight off as he forced his fingers into her mouth and his hands into her jeans as the pig or the baboon. In her book Banon writes of feeling sick when the man she calls the baboon was being hailed as the next president of France before his arrest on sexual assault charges in New York.

"It was nine o'clock that Saturday morning and they were talking about the baboon on the television. He is a superhero, a messiah, saviour - capable of everything. He would revive the country, lower taxes, understand the weakest and bring happiness and calm to each French household. They showed pictures of him in action in the four corners of the world. Superman. When I saw him his stare made me freeze, the television screen could not protect me, his smile was only for me, it forced its way into my stomach and the image only disappeared when I threw up my lunch. Suddenly his message on my telephone came back to me: "So, I scared you?". That was eight years ago.

The years have passed, but nothing has completely effaced the memory. I do not speak the sordid details of his fingers in my mouth, his hands in my pants after undoing my jeans and bra, under my black turtleneck. He had stopped the dictaphone, grabbed my hand and arm and I asked him to let me go - that was the fight part. He pulled me toward him, we came down, and we fought on the ground for several minutes. When I realized he really wanted to rape me, I started to give him a kick with my boots, I was terrified and I told him: “You’re not going to rape me?” And then I managed to free myself, I ran downstairs, I found myself in my car, I called my mother because I could not even drive, I was shaking so much.

Tristane Banon"I eventually spoke about it but I was too smiling when I did. I should have cried so that people understood the real ravages it had caused," she writes. "But alcohol had given my cheeks a rosy tint and, like Molière, I wanted to laugh about what had made me cry inside."

Appearing on a French television program Banon said the other guests on the show had waited until the cameras and microphones were off before saying: "We knew, but…"

"But what? Nobody must make any waves, and above all not let the public know. Only the elite must know, only those of the elite know how to hold their tongues."

In response to why she had not complained to the police at the time, Banon writes: "Put yourself in my place." It was widely reported that her mother had dissuaded her from going to the police telling her she would be known for the rest of her life as "the girl who had a problem with the politician".

Banon wrote that her decision in June 2011 to make an official complaint for attempted rape was "taking the combat to the enemy".

In her book she also expresses shock that supporters had abandoned her. "How many promised to give evidence if, in the future, they were called to do so? How many assured me of unwavering support? How many, suddenly disappeared the moment they were asked to sign a written declaration, when they had to photocopy their identity card to authenticate the statement?"

Tristane BanonFrench prosecutors had dropped the investigation of former IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn, stating they had evidence of sexual assault which has a shorter statute of limitations – rather than attempted rape, but that the case was too old for them to prosecute. The state prosecutor stated that Even if a prosecution for attempted rape could not be brought for lack of sufficient proof, facts that could be qualified as sexual assault were recognised.

Under French law sexual assault is a lesser charge than attempted rape and cannot be prosecuted if a complaint is made more than three years after the alleged incident, so therefore the state prosecutor halted the probe because the incident happened in 2003 but was not revealed until July 2011. Banon had already said she would attempt to bring a private prosecution if the prosecutor’s office refused to take the case, in which case an independent investigating magistrate will have to reconsider the evidence.

Her lawyer, David Koubbi stated - He will have to be satisfied with being an unconvicted sex attacker, protected by the statute of limitation from criminal charges, but not from legitimate suspicion about his behavior toward women. Further he said the decision was a first victory for Miss Banon as, after five months of fierce combat, it has been established beyond doubt that her case is not without substance and that the facts that she complained of were not imaginary, contrary to Mr. Strauss-Kahn’s claims.

Tristane BanonStrauss-Kahn was pulled off a Paris-bound plane in May 2011 and arrested over accusations he sexually assaulted a maid in a luxury hotel suite in New York City. Manhattan prosecutors dropped the charges against him in August amid questions about the credibility of his accuser, Nafissatou Diallo. Banon had filed a criminal complaint in July 2011 against Strauss-Kahn alleging attempted rape in a 2003 incident.

Upon review the Paris prosecutor's office found there was not enough evidence to support the charges, although authorities said Strauss-Kahn admitted to sexual aggression against her. In her 128-page book, Banon recounts the media frenzy that followed Strauss-Kahn's arrest and how quickly she became hounded by journalists, old acquaintances and random strangers on Facebook. Tristane never mentions Strauss-Kahn by name in Le Bal des Hypocrites, but instead refers to him 15 times as the baboon man and the pig, but left little doubt about whom she is referring to.

Only a few real names are used in the book - her lawyer, two friends and her dog. However, it is not hard to identify the left-wing politicians she heavily criticizes for not speaking out on her behalf. In the book, Banon describes in detail the media frenzy that surrounded her at the time, writing of endless phone calls and text messages from journalists around the world. She publishes 29 e-mails in the book she received from French and foreign journalists requesting an interview.

The book touches on Banon's reasons for taking her time to decide whether or not to press charges against Strauss-Kahn in the 2003 incident. Banon was criticized in the French press for hesitating on this point and for never speaking to the press. Banon wrote that she was not going to be pressured into making a decision - I don't want a jury made up of the media to decide for me, I don't want them to drag me into vengeance. So I keep quiet, I remain silent when really I want to scream, to yell, to break my television, to eat the newspaper, destroy my radio...

Tristane BanonTristane Banon was born 13 June 1979, a French journalist and writer, she is the daughter of Anne Mansouret - a Socialist politician and god daughter to Strauss-Kahn's ex-wife and French-Morrocan businessman Gabriel Banon who served as industrial policy advisor to French President Georges Pompidou and as economic advisor to Palestinian President Yasser Arafat.

Banon earned a diploma from the Ecole Supérieure de Journalisme de Paris, and initially worked in casual jobs as a journalist, as an anchorwoman on a television show about new information and communication technologies, and as a sports journalist. She was employed in the politics department, and later the cultural department, of the French weekly Paris-Match, then worked at the daily newspaper, Le Figaro. Her first book, a long essay entitled Erreurs avouées… (au masculin) about the biggest mistakes in the lives of political figures was published in November 2003 by Anne Carrière.

A short novel Noir Délire, inspired by the tragic death of the French actress Marie Trintignant, appeared the same year in the literary review Bordel. Her first novel J’ai oublié de la tuer (English: I Forgot to Kill Her) was published in September 2004 by éditions Anne Carrière. The novel, described by Banon as part-autobiographical, tells the story of a young girl's ruined childhood, neglected by her mother and forced to fend for herself against an alcoholic and abusive nanny. Her second novel Trapéziste (English: Trapezist) appeared in 2006, followed by Daddy Frénésie (English: Daddy Frenzy) in 2008 and Le Bal des Hypocrites (English: The Hypocrites' Ball) in 2011.

Kim Willsher at The Guardian in Paris.




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