Former IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn, once thought of as a future French president before he was engulfed in sex scandals, was acquitted of pimping charges Friday in a Lille court.
Strauss-Kahn had faced a potential 10-year prison sentence in France if convicted of the charge of "aggravated pimping." His conviction had looked unlikely in recent months, after the prosecutor recommended acquittal and five of the six accusers dropped their claims.
The charges of "aggravated pimping" in French law mean pimping with particularly bad circumstances, and are usually used for offences like prostituting a minor. In Strauss-Kahn's case, the alleged aggravation involved using more than one prostitute and working with a group.
"Everyone is allowed to lead the sexual life they wish so long as that remains within the boundaries of the law," prosecutor Frederic Fevre told the court.
Eyebrows had been raised in France over the charges, as paying for sex is not illegal in the country, and there didn't seem to be much evidence that Strauss-Kahn had overstepped the boundary into organising the parties or procuring prostitutes.
Still, the revelations about his sexual adventures, including orgies and "brutal" sex, in the course of the trial may have been enough to end his political career.
"I think a comeback for DSK is out of the cards. He would be too toxic for the Socialist Party," Antonio Barroso, senior analyst at Teneo Intelligence, told CNBC.
In 2011, Strauss-Kahn was forced out of his position at the International Monetary Fund after he was arrested and charged with the sexual assault of a hotel maid in New York. No charges were brought, although he eventually paid an undisclosed sum to the woman in a civil action in the U.S.
He admitted attending the parties, known as "soirees libertines," but argued that he did not know some of the women he encountered there were being paid for their attendance, and said that he thought they were there for "excitement and the adventure."
- By CNBC's Catherine Boyle