In my professional opinion as a former attorney who has had to evaluate evidence, the credibility of witnesses, and whether or not to settle a case or drop it, let me say that I find Ms. Diallo’s rape allegations against Mr. Dominique Strauss-Kahn very credible and worthy of prosecution.
The 800 lb elephant in the room, however, is the issue of her race and status and how that may impact the prosecution’s decision to go forward or not. There is also the venue issue whether or not such a trail would take place in Manhattan or in the Bronx where she might find a more sympathetic jury.
This is a classic, and tragic case where the victim (a woman of color and immigrant status) has already been deemed “suspect” with regard to her allegations, and her past associations and veracity (truth-telling) as the star witness for the prosecution because of her low socio-economic status.
It is a case of David versus Goliath: The alleged perpetrator is a world renowned financial leader, a potential candidate for the presidency of France, his wife is a wealthy socialite, and he has friends in high places who will do anything to see him exonerated of these damaging allegations.
The victim on the other hand is an immigrant from Guinea (who ironically sought asylum here in the U.S. because she claimed to have been gang raped in Guinea), a domestic, who resides in the Bronx. The power imbalance here is enormous, but the facts deserve our attention and action.
As far as I can tell the circumstantial evidence against Kahn is enormous. Diallo alleges he startled her naked upon entering his room to clean up, then assaulted her, and ultimately brutally forced her to perform oral sex on him.
She suffered a shoulder injury, and a bruising to her groin as he allegedly tore off her pantyhose. She was seen immediately after the assault shaking, spitting (to possibly get semen residue out of her mouth), heaving, and emotionally distraught. She immediately reported the incident to her hotel supervisor and they called the NYPD. Kahn was arrested at JFK airport shortly thereafter after fleeing the scene with toothpaste still on his mouth.
These facts and eyewitness testimony about Diallo’s immediate state of mind are key to building a case against Kahn. Yet, the defense has responded that she is not credible, that she consorts with drug-traffickers, and that she lied about being raped on her asylum application. What they fail to mention is that Kahn has been accused of this type of thing before. French journalist Tristane Bannon alleges that when she interviewed him in 2003, that he attempted to rape her. She has filed charges against Kahn.
Here is the bottom line: The Manhattan DA is hedging, in my opinion, because of this woman’s race and status. They don’t want to go up against a French Statesman and international figure and be made to look foolish if they are “wrong”.
I wonder, if the victim were white, and from Manhattan, and a manager at the hotel who was attacked by Kahn, would that have made a difference? This is yet another example of how far we as women of color have to go when it comes to how we are viewed, and treated as victims of crimes. Particularly when those crimes are committed by wealthy or powerful men.