- Associated Press - Thursday, May 19, 2011

NEW YORK — A judge agreed Thursday to free former International Monetary Fund leader Dominique Strauss-Kahn from a New York City jail on the condition that he post $1 million in bail and remain under house arrest, under the watch of armed guards, at a private apartment in Manhattan.

The 62-year-old banker and diplomat wore an expression of relief after Supreme Court Justice Michael J. Obus announced his decision in a packed Manhattan courtroom. Later, he blew a kiss toward his wife.

The ruling didn’t free Mr. Strauss-Kahn immediately. Authorities need time to review and approve the security arrangements involved in his home detention, which lawyers said would be at an apartment rented by his wife. They did not disclose the location of the home.

Mr. Strauss-Kahn also will have to take out a $5 million insurance bond. It’s not believed the wealthy banker will have any problem meeting the financial conditions of his release.

“He’s going back to Rikers tonight and we expect him to be released tomorrow,” said William Taylor, one of his attorneys.

His political career in shambles and his leadership of the IMF a memory, Mr. Strauss-Kahn was formally indicted at Thursday’s hearing on charges that he sexually abused a maid at a Manhattan hotel.

Since his arrest, the French politician has been held at the city’s bleak Rikers Island jail complex. Prosecutors had opposed his release, saying his wealth and international connections would make it easy for him to flee.

A prosecutor began Thursday’s hearing by announcing that a grand jury had found enough evidence for an indictment, a procedural step that elevates the seriousness of the charge. Without it, authorities would have been unable to detain him for longer than a week.

“The proof against him is substantial. It is continuing to grow every day as the investigation continues,” said Assistant District Attorney John “Artie” McConnell. “We have a man who, by his own conduct in this case, has shown a propensity for impulsive criminal conduct.”

Mr. Strauss-Kahn arrived for the hearing wearing a gray suit and an open blue shirt. As he entered, he turned to give a quick smile to his daughter and wife, the French television journalist Anne Sinclair, seated in the gallery.

Similar house arrest arrangements have been made for other high-profile defendants in the city, most notably Bernard Madoff, the Ponzi scheme mastermind who stole billions of dollars from his clients.

Mr. Taylor called the arrangement “restrictive,” although he suggested few precautions were necessary.

The defense team made an initial request for bail on Monday that was denied, but was making additional arguments before a new judge, Justice Obus, for the first time. The judge oversees all criminal courts in Manhattan.

Mr. Strauss-Kahn is accused of attacking a 32-year-old housekeeper Saturday afternoon at his Manhattan hotel suite. The West African immigrant told police that he chased her down a hallway, forced her to perform oral sex and tried to remove her stockings.

Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. called the charges “extremely serious.”

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