Dominique Strauss-Kahn resigned Wednesday as head of the International Monetary Fund after explosive allegations that he had sexually attacked a cleaning lady in a midtown Manhattan hotel room.
“It is with infinite sadness that I feel compelled today to present to the Executive Board my resignation from my post of Managing Director of the IMF,” he said in a statement issued Wednesday. “I think at this time first of my wife—whom I love more than anything—of my children, of my family, of my friends.”
His resignation comes just days after he was taken off an Air France plane at Kennedy International Airport and arrested in connection with the alleged attack.
Mr. Strauss-Kahn, a former French finance minister, had been expected to declare his candidacy for the French presidency soon. He was seen as the figure most likely to oust President Nicolas Sarkozy.
In issuing his resignation Wednesday, Mr. Strauss-Kahn said, “I want to say that I deny with the greatest possible firmness all of the allegations that have been made against me.”
News of the arrest produced an earthquake of shock, outrage, disbelief and embarrassment throughout France.
Though Mr. Strauss-Kahn received generally high marks for his stewardship of the bank, his reputation was tarnished in 2008 by an affair with a Hungarian economist who was a subordinate there. The fund decided to stand by him despite concluding that he had shown poor judgment in the affair. Mr. Strauss-Kahn issued an apology to employees at the bank and his wife, Anne Sinclair, an American-born French journalist.
Mr. Strauss-Kahn’s extramarital affairs have long been considered an open secret. But the legal charges against him — which include attempted rape, forced oral sex and an effort to sequester another person against her will — are of an entirely different magnitude, even in France and elsewhere in continental Europe, where voters have generally shown more lenience than Americans toward the sexual behavior of prominent politicians, most notably the sexual escapades of Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi of Italy.