NEW YORK (Reuters)—Former IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn entered a plea of not guilty on Monday to charges he sexually assaulted a New York hotel maid in a case that cost him his job and a chance at the French presidency.
Wearing a dark suit, Strauss-Kahn arrived at the courthouse with his wife, French television journalist Anne Sinclair, walking beside him, arm-in-arm.
The couple walked past a throng of media and a large group of hotel workers there in solidarity with the woman who said Strauss-Kahn attacked her. "Shame on you," they chanted.
Strauss-Kahn, 62, faces up to 25 years in prison if convicted on charges including attempted rape, sex abuse, a criminal sex act, unlawful imprisonment and forcible touching.
Strauss-Kahn was asked what plea he would enter to the charges and he told the court clerk, "Not guilty." The next date in the case at New York Supreme Court before Judge Michael Obus was set for July 18.
Praised for his role tackling the 2007-09 global financial crisis and attempts to keep Europe's debt crisis under control, Strauss-Kahn resigned as managing director of the International Monetary Fund a few days after his May 14 arrest in the first-class section of anAir France plane, minutes before it was to depart New York for Paris.
He was accused of attacking a 32-year-old African immigrant a few hours earlier when she came to clean his suite at the luxury Sofitel hotel inMidtown Manhattan, apparently believing it had been vacated.
Strauss-Kahn, who has four daughters, denies the charges. Monday's arraignment marks the start of what could be lengthy legal proceedings.
A new IMF chief has not yet been appointed. French Finance MinisterChristine Lagarde and Mexican central bank chief Agustin Carstens both want to replace Strauss-Kahn.
Until the New York arrest, Strauss-Kahn had been expected to quit his IMF post for a different reason -- a bid to become the Socialist candidate for president ofFrance. He had been a strong favorite to beat conservative President Nicolas Sarkozy at the polls next year.
Instead, Strauss-Kahn spent four days in New York's Rikers Island jail before he was released on $1 million cash bail and $5 million bond and placed under house arrest with 24-hour armed guards and electronic monitoring.
He spent a few days in a Lower Manhattan apartment but is now living in a luxurious townhouse rented by his wife in Manhattan's TriBeCa district. The townhouse has a gym and home cinema and was last posted for sale for almost $14 million.
A prosecutor estimated Strauss-Kahn would pay $200,000 a month for his security arrangements.
Strauss-Kahn's lawyer has said that although his client has a net worth of roughly $2 million, his wife, an heiress, has "substantially greater assets." So far, Sinclair has not displayed any hesitation about using her personal wealth to help her husband.
(Additional reporting by Joseph Ax; editing by Mark Egan and Bill Trott)