The French legal system is currently undergoing what is commonly referred to as the ‘Hotel Carltonpimping trial,’ a lawsuit involving impoverished women from Lille, a city in Northern France, and powerful businessmen.
Dominique Strauss-Kahn, former head of the International Monetary Fund, is one of the well-known defendants of the case accused of “aiding and abetting prostitution by having sex with paid women,” according to Angelique Chrisafis of The Guardian. Strauss-Kahn denies these charges vehemently, aclaiming he was not aware the women whom which he participating in group sex were paid prostitutes. He describes the charges as “dangerous and malicious insinuations and extrapolations,” as reported by The Guardian.
Rene Kojfer, the head of public relations for Hotel Carlton, is claimed to have lead financially destitute women to men of status for sexual encounters. Women who were victims of Kojfer’s include Jade who attests to an instance where she was brought to an apartment near the hotel and given to the residing men. As reported by Chrisafis, “There were sandwiches, a bottle of champagne. They [the men] had lunch. We [Jade and the other woman] were their dessert.”
Kojfer is known for taking advantage of victims of domestic violence and poverty by bringing them into the prostitution ring. He claims that he was “helping” these women, as reported in his statement to the court.
The businessmen of France who arranged for the prostitutes to be brought to Strauss-Kahn wanted to win the favor of the man they believed would one day be president of France. The encounters were organized to fit Strauss-Kahn’s busy schedule; women were brought to him in both France and the United States.
Many remember Strauss-Kahn for the incident of May 2011 when he was arrested in New York for the attempted rape of Nafissatou Diallo. Although criminal charges were eventually dropped by prosecutors, Strauss-Kahn later settled a civil action with Diallo.
It was with this case that Strauss-Kahn’s political career was ended. He however currently serves as a financial consultant to the Serbian government and the Russian Regional Development Bank.
One of the reasons that this case, and the charges brought against Strauss-Kahn in 2011, has been attracting so much media attention is because of strict privacy laws in France which have in the past prevented the darker corners of politicians’ personal lives to be open to the public.
Interestingly, neither prostitution nor paying for sex are illegal in France, the basis of this trial rests on criminal charges of aiding, abetting, organizing, and assisting in the prostitution of others. Last year the upper house of the French parliament rejected the government attempt to criminalize prostitution.
Among Strauss-Kahn there is a variety of others involved in with prostitution network including a police commissioner, the owner of a chain of brothels given the nickname Dodo the Pimp, a barrister, two luxury hotel directors, and a handful of freemasons.
Realistically, this lawsuit is not of high legal importance in France. Instead it represents attitudes in France changing to accept a more gender-equal mentality.