Prosecutors Move To Drop Charges Against Strauss-Kahn


The criminal case against Dominique Strauss-Kahn for allegedly sexually assaulting Nafissatou Diallo is now effectively over. Yesterday, New York City prosecutors filed a 25-page motion asking a judge to dismiss the case. Prosecutors say that while they can establish that the two “engaged in a hurried sexual encounter,” Diallo was “persistently, and at times inexplicably, untruthful in describing matters of both great and small significance,” and thus the case would be impossible to prosecute.

The motion, which the New York Times posted here, provides a detailed account of the facts and the discrepancies in Diallo’s story. It’s clear that the document is at least partly intended as a response to those who’ve criticized the way the Manhattan district attorney’s office handled the case. Unsurprisingly, there’s no mention of prosecutors leaking damaging information to the press.

The first problem with Diallo’s account is the confusion over what she did immediately after the alleged attack. First she told prosecutors that she hid on the far end of a hallway until she happened to encounter a supervisor. Later she said she went directly into another room and cleaned it, then returned to Strauss-Kahn’s suite. Electronic swipe records show she wasn’t in the room long enough to complete the tasks she described. Finally she said she only entered another suite momentarily before heading back into Strauss-Kahn’s room. Prosecutors say these details would be key during a trial and, “these varying accounts also make it difficult to ascertain what actually occurred in the critical time frame between 12:06 and 12:26.

The second issue is that Diallo managed to give a vivid description of being gang raped in Guinea, even though she later admitted the story was made up for her asylum application. Prosecutors say this proves her demeanor “cannot serve as a reliable measure of truthfulness.” The document notes that Diallo’s lying doesn’t mean she wasn’t assaulted, but prosecutors believe the case still can’t be put before a jury:

“That an individual has lied in the past or committed criminal acts does not necessarily render them unbelievable to us as prosecutors, or keep us from putting them on the witness stand at trial. But the nature and number of the complainant’s falsehoods leave us unable to credit her version of events beyond a reasonable doubt, whatever the truth may be about the encounter between the complainant and the defendant. If we do not believe her beyond a reasonable doubt, we cannot ask a jury to do so.”

The Wall Street Journal reports that a judge is expected to formally drop the charges at a hearing today. Diallo and her lawyer Kenneth Thompson were told that prosecutors were moving to dismiss the case on Monday afternoon. During a press conference afterwards, Thompson said, “The Manhattan District Attorney, Cyrus Vance, has denied the right of a woman to get justice in a rape case.”

Sonia Ossorio, the executive director of the New York City chapter of the National Organization for Women, said the case was, “mishandled by many people, including the victim’s lawyer,” however, “The prospect of Dominique Strauss-Kahn simply walking away scot-free is appalling.” Strauss-Kahn isn’t totally free, as he’s still facing a civil suit filed by Diallo and allegations that he raped French writer Tristane Banon in 2003. Yet, it does seem that we’ll never know what exactly happened in the Sofitel hotel room, and if a crime was committed, it will go unpunished.

District Attorney Asks Judge to Drop Strauss-Kahn Case [NYT]
Recommendation for Dismissal of Strauss-Kahn Case [NYT]
DA Moves To Abandon Strauss-Kahn Charges [WSJ]

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