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Ex-IMF Chief Strauss-Kahn's Prostitution Ring Trial Begins

Former IMF head Dominique Strauss-Kahn (partially seen in backseat of the car) arrives for the start of a trial in the "Carlton Affair," in Lille, France, on Monday.

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the former head of the International Monetary Fund, whose career unraveled amid allegations he raped a maid in a New York hotel, went on trial today in France in a separate case of allegedly procuring prostitutes for orgies at a luxury hotel.

Strauss-Kahn is charged with "procuring with aggravating circumstances." Here's how Reuters explains the charges:

"Prosecutors say the charge of procuring, or pimping, is applicable because, under the French legal definition, it extends to any activity seen as facilitating prostitution. In Strauss-Kahn's case, judicial investigators allege he allowed his rented apartment to be used for sex parties involving prostitutes and that he was involved in organizing them."

Strauss-Kahn has previously acknowledged attending the orgies, but says he didn't know the women there were prostitutes.

The Associated Press notes that while it's not illegal to pay for sex in France, it is illegal to solicit or to run a prostitution business.

The news service adds: "Prostitutes questioned in the case said that between 2009 and 2011 — precisely when the world's leaders were looking to the IMF chief for a way out of the global financial crisis — Strauss-Kahn was organizing orgies at luxury hotels in Paris, at a restaurant in the French capital and also in Washington."

If convicted, Strauss-Kahn could face 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $1.7 million.

Strauss-Kahn and 13 other defendants in what has become known as the Carlton Affair — named for the hotel where the orgies were said to take place — entered the courthouse in Lille, along with their lawyers. He did not speak to the gathered reporters.

Strauss-Kahn was widely considered a front-runner for the French presidency before the 2011 rape allegations in New York derailed his ambitions and forced his resignation as head of the IMF. He maintained that the sex with chambermaid Nafissatou Diallo was consensual. Criminal charges in that case were dropped, but he settled a civil case with his accuser.

The trial in Lille is expected to last three weeks.

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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