[Debate] dsk case set for dismissal - nyt
Riaz K Tayob
riaz.tayob at gmail.com
Mon Aug 22 15:49:07 BST 2011
Strauss-Kahn Case Is Said to Be Set for Dismissal
By WILLIAM K. RASHBAUM, JOHN ELIGON and JIM DWYER
////Three months after authorizing Dominique Strauss-Kahn
swift indictment after his arrest on sexual assault charges, the
Manhattan district attorney, Cyrus R. Vance Jr.
has decided to ask a judge to dismiss the case, a person briefed on the
matter said on Sunday.
Mr. Vance's decision will end one of the most closely watched
prosecutions in New York in decades with no determination on whether the
encounter between Mr. Strauss-Kahn, who was then the managing director
of the International Monetary Fund, and a hotel housekeeper who went to
clean his suite was criminal or consensual, several law enforcement
officials have said.
While there has been widespread speculation <http://nyti.ms/rhjEhE> that
Mr. Vance would drop the case, it is nonetheless an extraordinary turn
of events, for both Mr. Strauss-Kahn, 62, an enormously powerful
international banker and a leading candidate <http://nyti.ms/oaeRId> for
the French presidency before his arrest, and his accuser, Nafissatou
a 33-year-old immigrant from Guinea.
Her credibility as a witness began to crumble after prosecutors
discovered what they characterized as a series of lies she had told,
though none bore directly on her version of the encounter with Mr.
Mr. Strauss-Kahn, who was led out of a police building in handcuffs in
May and held under house arrest until his bail conditions were relaxed
last month, would be free to return to France after a judge, responding
to a motion from the district attorney, formally dismissed the
The outcome would leave Ms. Diallo with no recourse to pursue criminal
charges against the Frenchman. But she has filed a civil lawsuit
<http://nyti.ms/mXzoD3> seeking unspecified monetary damages from Mr.
Strauss-Kahn for what the suit called a "violent and sadistic attack"
that humiliated and degraded her.
Mr. Vance's office has readied a motion known as a dismissal on
recommendation, which one person briefed on the matter said would detail
the reasons he and his aides believe that the case cannot be proved
beyond a reasonable doubt.
Mr. Vance's decision in the highly charged case, which ultimately became
a credibility contest of sorts between Ms. Diallo and Mr. Strauss-Kahn,
was said to have grown out of prosecutors' assessment that her repeated
lies, including multiple denials that she had given any consideration to
Mr. Strauss-Kahn's money, would open her to withering cross-examination.
A day after the encounter, she and a friend who was in jail had a
recorded telephone conversation about Mr. Strauss-Kahn's wealth, a fact
that the investigators would not learn until six weeks later, after Ms.
Diallo had been asked repeatedly about the subject.
She is the only witness who could testify to the central allegation in
the case: that Mr. Strauss-Kahn forced her to perform oral sex.
One law enforcement official involved in the investigation said no
single problematic detail about Ms. Diallo's background, or even all of
them put together, had undermined the prosecution's faith in its ability
to present a viable case. Indeed, the official noted, it is common for
witnesses and complainants who testify to be vulnerable to attacks on
their credibility, either because their accounts have varied, or because
they have self-interested motives for giving evidence, like avoiding
jail or, occasionally, winning civil settlements.
In the Strauss-Kahn case, the official said, prosecutors came to believe
that Ms. Diallo seemed unwilling to take responsibility for telling the
"We deal with witnesses with these kinds of problems every day," the
official said. "With her, we had to drag the details of the lies out of
her over weeks. It might have been different if she had let all the air
out in a day or two. Every time she was confronted with her lies, she
would blame someone else --- someone told her to say this for asylum,
someone else took advantage of her bank accounts, someone else did the
Besides their legal and ethical responsibilities to disclose Ms.
Diallo's untruths, members of the prosecution team could have been
called in a criminal trial to testify about her untrue statements to
them --- possibly transforming prosecutors into witnesses for the defense.
Asking a jury to believe Ms. Diallo beyond a reasonable doubt had become
untenable, according to a senior official involved in the case.
"We couldn't tell the jury that she kept lying to us but that they
should believe her," the senior official said.
But Mr. Vance's decision will probably draw fire on several fronts,
including from black leaders and women's groups who have urged him to
allow a jury to weigh the facts and render a decision.
Ms. Diallo's lawyer, Kenneth P. Thompson
acknowledged that his client may have credibility issues, but he said
that other evidence weighed the case in her favor, including other hotel
workers who saw Ms. Diallo in a distraught state shortly after she said
she was attacked.
"You must also consider the overwhelming physical evidence that Mr.
Vance and his prosecutors pointed to just weeks ago," Mr. Thompson said.
"Forensic evidence does not lie." Even one of the controversial phone
conversations with her friend in jail corroborated her account of the
attack, Mr. Thompson said. Ms. Diallo described the assault to her
friend just as she had the previous day to detectives and prosecutors,
according to Mr. Thompson.
Law enforcement officials have said, however, that though the forensic
evidence in the case shows that a sexual encounter occurred, it does not
prove that it was forcible.
Some critics have contended that Mr. Vance's office is to blame for some
of the problems that arose in the case. They pointed to the prosecutors'
decision, shortly after Mr. Strauss-Kahn's arrest, to reject an
agreement under which Mr. Strauss-Kahn would be freed on bail --- a
decision that forced them to move swiftly to seek an indictment from a
grand jury rather than take more time to investigate details of the case.
The more deliberative course, these critics say, would have given
prosecutors a chance to learn more about the housekeeper and perhaps
avoid their early pronouncements that she was a powerful and
Since Mr. Strauss-Kahn was taken into custody <http://nyti.ms/nefKeE>
hours after the May 14 incident at the Sofitel New York, the case has
played out in an almost carnival-like atmosphere, with legions of
representatives of foreign news outlets camped out in front of the
courthouse in Lower Manhattan. The drama has dominated the headlines
<http://nyti.ms/qcQTK5> in France, where his arrest and star turn in
handcuffs before the cameras sparked outrage <http://nyti.ms/ropD7o>.
From his first court hearing, Mr. Strauss-Kahn's lawyers indicated that
a sexual encounter did take place <http://nyti.ms/odiPig> in the suite
but suggested that whatever occurred was consensual.
Mr. Strauss-Kahn, a leading figure in the Socialist Party who stepped
down <http://nyti.ms/nsj95P> from his post at the I.M.F. because of his
arrest, was charged with <http://nyti.ms/pjbsxI> attempted rape, sexual
abuse, criminal sexual act, unlawful imprisonment and forcible touching.
Prosecutors were initially successful in getting a judge to order him
held without bail, saying their case was strong and corroborated by
physical evidence. They also said the housekeeper had given a compelling
and unwavering account of what happened inside the hotel room.
A State Supreme Court justice eventually granted Mr. Strauss-Kahn bail
<http://nyti.ms/r9Rv8F> on $1 million cash and $5 million bond. But he
was held under extraordinary conditions in which he remained under house
arrest in a town house in TriBeCa <http://nyti.ms/nKvnMJ>, monitored by
an armed guard. He could leave the town house only under limited
Those bail restrictions were lifted in a stunning reversal by
prosecutors on July 1 <http://nyti.ms/obFUHU>, about six weeks after the
At a court hearing, the district attorney's office revealed
<http://nyti.ms/qgd9dw> that it had uncovered several facts damaging to
the housekeeper's credibility. Ms. Diallo had lied in her asylum
application to immigration
authorities and falsely told prosecutors she had been gang raped in her
native country, according to a letter filed by prosecutors. She also was
untruthful in her tax returns, the letter said.
Another area was not aired in court, but was discussed with Ms. Diallo's
lawyer before then. On June 29, when prosecutors' confidence in Ms.
Diallo had already eroded, they received summary translations of phone
conversations that she had with a man in immigration detention on May
15, the day after her encounter with Mr. Strauss-Kahn. By then, Ms.
Diallo had told the authorities on several occasions that she had never
given consideration to possible compensation from a man as wealthy as
On the night of June 30, Mr. Thompson said that he was called by Mr.
Vance's chief assistant, Daniel R. Alonso, and was informed that the
case had serious problems, specifying the phone conversation
<http://nyti.ms/pKBCnV> with the man in detention.
Mr. Thompson indicated that Mr. Alonso "stated the victim said 'words to
the effect' that 'this guy has a lot of money. I know what I'm doing.' "
Mr. Thompson has vehemently disputed the prosecutors' interpretation of
the recorded conversation, in which the two spoke in Fulani, a language
Later, when he listened to the tape with a translator, Mr. Thompson said
the prosecutors had mischaracterized its contents
<http://nyti.ms/qivhFT>. The district attorney's office later had
several translations from Fulani prepared, and these produced different
texts that covered the same subject. The official involved in the
investigation said there could be "no question as to the substance of
While prosecutors might have wanted Ms. Diallo to hold off on filing a
civil suit, they had no objection to her seeking damages for injuries
she might have suffered at the hands of Mr. Strauss-Kahn. But the phone
call, the official said, signified another episode of Ms. Diallo's not
During the month of June, as it became apparent to prosecutors that the
case was crumbling, lawyers for Ms. Diallo and Mr. Strauss-Kahn, had
some discussions about a payment that would settle any civil claims, and
presumably also protect Mr. Strauss-Kahn from criminal prosecution.
In late July, in a rare move for a woman who said she was sexually
assaulted, Ms. Diallo went public, giving interviews to Newsweek
magazine <http://bit.ly/nFBbiS> and ABC News <http://abcn.ws/pHL9Ld>.
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
More information about the Debate-list