PARIS — Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the former head of the International Monetary Fund, acknowledged Sunday his sexual encounter with a New York hotel maid was a "moral failing" on his part, but didn't involve violence, constraint or aggression.
In his first interview since his May 14 arrest over sexual assault accusations, Strauss-Kahn told France's TF1 television channel what happened between him and the maid, Nafissatou Diallo, "was not only an inappropriate relationship, but more than that, it was an error."
Strauss-Kahn, 62, a Socialist politician who was widely considered a top contender in next year's presidential race until the case broke, said "it was a failing, a failing vis-a-vis my wife, my children and my friends but also a failing vis-a-vis the French people, who had vested their hopes for change in me.
"I think it was a moral failing and I am not proud of it. I regret it infinitely. I have regretted it every day for the past four months and I think I'm not done regretting it," he said at the start of the 20-minute interview. Much of the exchange came off as staged, with Strauss-Kahn appearing unruffled throughout and not surprised by the questions.
Strauss-Kahn's initial contrition was peppered with anger at his accuser, a Guinean immigrant who maintained he attacked her after she came into his room at New York's Sofitel hotel to clean. Strauss-Kahn suggested that financial motives might have been behind Diallo's accusations.
Angela Charlton in Paris contributed to this report.