France's leading presidential candidate may have pounced on a Manhattan hotel maid -- but she wanted it, his lawyer asserted in court yesterday, hinting at what could be an explosive defense.There may well have been forcible sodomy. But I guess that's what we have juries for.
"The evidence, we believe, will not be consistent with a forcible encounter," said Ben Brafman, the high-powered lawyer of IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn, at the suspect's sensational arraignment in a packed criminal courtroom.
A source close to the defense later told The Post, "There may well have been consent."
Prosecutors also hinted at Strauss-Kahn's dark past.Not noted until now is this little detail that's sure to cause some problems over in France.
"Our investigation reveals [Strauss-Kahn] may have engaged in similar conduct on at least one other occasion," said ADA Artie McConnell.
A law-enforcement source later said that incident occurred outside the country but didn't elaborate. A French journalist, Tristane Banon, has said Strauss-Kahn assaulted her during an interview in 2002.
Strauss-Kahn is accused of attacking the maid at the Sofitel hotel in Times Square around noon on Saturday after she entered his $3,000-a-night suite to clean it, thinking it was empty.
The millionaire moneyman had checked into Room 2805-6 a day earlier for a two-day jaunt, which his employer, the International Monetary Fund, said was for "personal business."
A male room-service worker told the maid the room was empty, law-enforcement sources said.
Following hotel policy, she parked her cart in the doorway to the suite, leaving the door ajar. She then entered the living-room area and announced herself to make sure again no one was inside.
When she didn't get an answer, she went to the bedroom to clean.
Strauss-Kahn strolled in naked from the bathroom, she told cops. The 32-year-old maid apologized and turned around to leave.
But she made it only as far as the foyer. Strauss-Kahn allegedly ran up behind her, grabbed her breasts, pushed the cart out of the door and locked it shut. He allegedly dragged her into the bedroom and tried to force her to perform oral sex.
Meanwhile, neighbors of the maid described her as an "extremely quiet," French-speaking immigrant from the West African nation of Guinea who lives with her teen daughter in The Bronx.Uh oh. A white man of obvious privilege (allegedly) raping a devout black Muslim woman? Get ready for some French carbecues.
"She is extremely quiet. She only smiles at certain people," said neighbor Mark Gangadeen, adding that she wears a head scarf.
Another neighbor, Assetou Kamara, 33, said the woman is a devout Muslim.