Strauss-Kahn apologizes to France: I made a 'moral error'

In 1st interview since NY sex assault case, former IMF chief says he's angry with himself for "ill-judged but consensual liaison."

Dominique Strauss-Kahn appears on prime time news show (photo credit: REUTERS/TF1/Handout )
Dominique Strauss-Kahn appears on prime time news show
(photo credit: REUTERS/TF1/Handout )
PARIS - Dominique Strauss-Kahn apologized to France on Sunday for a sexual encounter with a hotel maid he said was a "moral error" he would regret all his life, and vowed to stay out of the Socialist Party's 2012 election campaign.
In his first interview since a New York sex assault case ended his IMF career and wrecked his chances of running for president, Strauss-Kahn said he was angry with himself for what he called an ill-judged but consensual liaison that had let down his country and hurt his family.
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"It was a moral error, and I am not proud of it," Strauss-Kahn said in an interview on TF1's prime-time Sunday evening TV news program, watched by millions. "I regret it, infinitely, and I don't think I am finished with regretting it."
The former International Monetary Fund head, once seen as the left's best chance of winning power in 2012, returned to France last week after a New York prosecutor dropped attempted rape charges related to his nine-minute encounter with a Sofitel hotel maid.
Dry-mouthed, nervous and clearly uncomfortable, he joined a string of powerful men from former US president Bill Clinton to ex-congressman Anthony Weiner to publicly apologize for sexual pecadillos. He told TF1 interviewer Claire Chazal, a friend of his wife Anne Sinclair, that he was a changed man.
"I have paid heavily for it. I am still paying for it. I have seen the pain I have caused around me and I have reflected deeply," Strauss-Kahn told an ill-at-ease Chazal, who kept her arms tightly crossed throughout the interview.
The attempted rape charges were dropped late in August after doubts arose over the hotel maid's credibility. Strauss-Kahn's lawyers had said from the start that the brusque encounter in his luxury suite was sexual but consensual and non-violent.
Rather than gloss over the scandal and focus on restoring his credibility as a world economic authority, Strauss-Kahn spent most of the interview expressing his regret and defending his innocence, speaking only briefly about the euro zone crisis.
Known in France by his initials DSK, he told TF1 he needed more time to reflect before deciding what to do with his career.
"I wanted to be a candidate (for the election). I thought I could be useful. All that is behind me," he said. "I don't think it's my role to get involved in the (Socialist) primary."
A few dozen feminists gathered outside the TF1 building ahead of the interview, brandishing signs reading "What's seduction for you?" and "DSK, sexual deviant, King of the chimps."