- Associated Press - Monday, July 4, 2011

PARIS — A French novelist will file a complaint on Tuesday accusing Dominique Strauss-Kahn of attempted rape, her attorney said, raising the prospect of a new sex-assault investigation starting just as the U.S. case against the former International Monetary Fund chief falters.

The announcement threw Mr. Strauss-Kahn’s legal situation in his home country into question and injected fresh uncertainty into a national debate about whether he will be able to return to his political career and enter the 2012 presidential race.

A sexual-assault case against him in New York was badly weakened last week by prosecutors’ publicly expressing doubts about the credibility of the hotel maid who accused him of forcing her to perform oral sex.

As a result, France was consumed Monday morning by the question of whether the longtime Socialist Party politician would or should revive his dream of running against unpopular conservative President Nicolas Sarkozy.

Mr. Strauss-Kahn’s supporters suffered a new shock within hours, when the attorney for writer and journalist Tristane Banon announced she planned to file the complaint in Paris within a day.

Ms. Banon, 31, said on a 2007 television show that she had been attacked five years earlier by a politician she had interviewed for a book. She later identified the man as Mr. Strauss-Kahn.

“It finished very violently,” she said on the television show. “I kicked him. He opened my bra. He tried to undo my jeans. It finished very badly.”

Lawyer David Koubbi said Ms. Banon had been dissuaded from filing charges by her mother, a regional councilor in Mr. Strauss-Kahn’s Socialist Party. Her mother, Anne Mansouret, acknowledged in a French television interview in May that she had urged her daughter not to file a complaint after the incident.

Ms. Banon came forward again after Mr. Strauss-Kahn’s May 14 arrest in New York, but Mr. Koubbi said his client had no intention of pressing charges while the American prosecution was going on because the two cases should be kept separate.

Mr. Strauss-Kahn had been widely seen as the leading presidential contender in the months before his arrest, leading many polls.

Before the announcement of the new accusation, the country was split on whether it wanted him back in public life. Two polls showed an almost even division between those who thought he should return and those who thought his political career was over.

Mr. Strauss-Kahn has relinquished his passport to authorities in New York. Another court hearing would be needed for him to get it back. His next appearance is scheduled for July 18, five days after the deadline for candidates to register in the Socialist Party primary.