Prosecutors seek to dismiss Strauss-Kahn charges
NEW YORK (AP) - Prosecutors filed paperwork with the court Monday recommending that the charges be dismissed...
NEW YORK (AP) – New York City prosecutors filed court papers Monday recommending dismissal of sexual assault charges against Dominique Strauss-Kahn, who was accused of attacking a hotel maid in May in a globally sensational case that eventually dissolved amid questions about the woman’s credibility.
The accuser, Nafissatou Diallo, and her attorney, Kenneth Thompson, met briefly with representatives of the Manhattan district attorney’s office to discuss the decision not to proceed with the prosecution.
Thompson didn’t say what had happened inside or reveal what his client was told, but he recited a short statement condemning prosecutors for their handling of the case.
“Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance has denied the right of a woman to get justice in a rape case,” he said. “He has not only turned his back on this innocent victim. But he has also turned his back on the forensic, medical and other physical evidence in this case.”
A person familiar with the case earlier told The Associated Press that prosecutors had concerns about Diallo’s credibility and insufficient evidence of forced sexual encounter. The person spoke on the condition of anonymity.
Diallo is also suing Strauss-Kahn, seeking to make him pay financially if not with his freedom, a move that the diplomat’s lawyers said also eroded her credibility.
Prosecutors filed paperwork with the court Monday recommending that the charges be dismissed. The document was not immediately made available to the public, so the district attorney’s reasons for asking for the dismissal were not known.
Strauss-Kahn is scheduled to go before a judge Tuesday. His lawyers, William Taylor and Benjamin Brafman, issued a statement saying that he and his family were grateful for the decision.
“We have maintained from the beginning of this case that our client is innocent,” they said. “We also maintained that there were many reasons to believe that Mr. Strauss-Kahn’s accuser was not credible.”
The case captured international attention as a seeming cauldron of sex, violence, power and politics: A promising French presidential contender, known in his homeland as “the Great Seducer,” accused of a brutal and contemptuous attack on an African immigrant who had come to clean his plush suite at the Sofitel hotel.
The stakes were high for Strauss-Kahn, who resigned his IMF post, spent nearly a week behind bars and then spent possibly hundreds of thousands of dollars to pay for house arrest, as well for Vance, who was handling the biggest case he has had during his 18 months in office.
Strauss-Kahn, 62, was arrested after Diallo, 32, said he chased her down and forced her to perform oral sex. Strauss-Kahn denied the allegations, and his lawyers have said anything that happened wasn’t forced.
Like many sexual assault cases, in which the accused and accuser are often the only eyewitnesses, the Strauss-Kahn case has hinged heavily on the woman’s believability.
Early on, prosecutors stressed that Diallo had provided “a compelling and unwavering story” replete with “very powerful details” and buttressed by forensic evidence; his semen was found on her uniform. The police commissioner said seasoned detectives had found her credible.
But then prosecutors said July 1 they’d found the maid had told them a series of troubling falsehoods, including a persuasive but phony account of having been gang-raped in her native Guinea. She said she was echoing a story she’d told to enhance her 2003 application for political asylum. She told interviewers she was raped in her homeland under other circumstances and embellished it to get herself and her 15-year-old daughter a chance at a better life in the U.S.
She also wasn’t consistent about what she did after her encounter with Strauss-Kahn, telling a grand jury she had hovered in a hallway when she actually returned to his and another room before consulting her boss, prosecutors said. She said the alleged discrepancy was a misunderstanding.
She also alluded to Strauss-Kahn’s wealth in a recorded phone conversation with a jailed friend, and her bank account had been a repository for tens of thousands of dollars she couldn’t explain, a law enforcement official has said.
She said a jailed man had used the bank account without telling her. As for the phone call, her lawyer, Kenneth Thompson, said she mentioned Strauss-Kahn’s money only to say that her alleged attacker was influential.
She sued Strauss-Kahn Aug. 8, seeking unspecified damages and promising to air other allegations that Strauss-Kahn accosted and attacked women in other locales.
His lawyers called her suit a meritless claim that proved she was out for money.
The Associated Press generally doesn’t name people who report being sexually assaulted unless they agree to be identified or publicly identify themselves, as Diallo has done.
Copyright 2011 The Associated Press.