February 27, 2021

Strauss-Kahn Drama Ends With Short Final Scene

A prosecutor spoke first, quickly summarizing what had been obvious for weeks: the Manhattan district attorney’s office had little confidence in its case, and even less trust in the accuser it had initially championed. A defense lawyer was next, saying simply, “We do not oppose the motion.”

Then the judge spoke.

And just like that, the sexual-assault case against Dominique Strauss-Kahn was dismissed Tuesday, bringing an abrupt end to what had been a three-month episodic criminal investigation, each chapter offering a sensational twist on the underlying storyline: Mr. Strauss-Kahn, a man of international power and prestige, was accused of sexually assaulting an immigrant hotel housekeeper after she entered his suite to clean it.

The dismissal order issued by Justice Michael J. Obus of State Supreme Court in Manhattan brought some semblance of legal vindication to Mr. Strauss-Kahn, 62, after his stunning and embarrassing arrest more than three months ago. He was taken into custody on May 14 aboard an Air France jet at Kennedy International Airport, and then appeared disheveled and in handcuffs before news cameras.

After the hearing Tuesday, Mr. Strauss-Kahn issued his first statement since his arrest, characterizing the criminal inquiry as “a nightmare for me and my family” and thanking the judge, his own wife, Anne Sinclair, and family and other supporters.

He added, “Finally, we are obviously gratified that the district attorney agreed with my lawyers that this case had to be dismissed,” and said he looked “forward to returning to our home and resuming something of a more normal life.”

One of Mr. Strauss-Kahn’s lawyers, Benjamin Brafman, said he expected his client to go to Washington, where he and his wife have owned a home for several years, to straighten out some personal matters.

“Until today, it was very hard to plan Dominique’s future,” Mr. Brafman said, noting that the prospect of many months of preparation and trial had loomed large. “You can think about what you want to do, but you had the threat of prison hanging over your head.”

For the accuser, Nafissatou Diallo, a 33-year-old Guinean immigrant, the result caps a precipitous fall. Prosecutors initially portrayed her as a credible and powerful witness, but then said that her myriad lies about her past — including a convincing, emotional but ultimately fraudulent account of being gang-raped by soldiers in Guinea — ended up undermining the case.

Ms. Diallo, who has made her identity public, still has a civil suit pending against Mr. Strauss-Kahn for unspecified damages. Her lawyer, Kenneth P. Thompson, has been relentless in his assertion that Mr. Strauss-Kahn forced his client to perform oral sex and that the office of the district attorney, Cyrus R. Vance Jr., should have taken the case to trial.

After the hearing, Mr. Thompson said Mr. Vance “has abandoned an innocent woman and has denied an innocent woman a right to get justice in a rape case.

“And by doing so, he has also abandoned other women who will be raped in the future or sexually assaulted.”

Mr. Thompson made one last attempt to keep the criminal case alive, filing a motion on Monday asking that Mr. Vance’s office be disqualified. But about an hour before Tuesday’s hearing, a court clerk handed out a one-page decision in which Justice Obus denied Mr. Thompson’s motion.

Mr. Thompson appealed the decision, but an appellate judge struck down the appeal Tuesday afternoon, clearing the way for Mr. Strauss-Kahn, the former managing director of the International Monetary Fund, to return to France, though his lawyers said he would not head there immediately.

Mr. Vance has faced criticism from some black civic leaders and women’s rights groups, some of whom protested outside the courthouse Tuesday morning. To them, the case represented an instance of a powerful, wealthy man getting away with something he did to a poor immigrant woman. They argued that Ms. Diallo’s credibility problems should not have prevented Mr. Vance from allowing a jury to decide whether it believed her.

On Tuesday, Mr. Vance released a statement saying that his office was committed to protecting victims of sex crimes, even ones with “imperfect pasts.”

“If we are convinced they are truthful about the crimes committed against them, and will tell the truth at trial, we will ask a jury to consider their testimony to prove a crime,” the statement said. “If we are not convinced, we cannot, should not and do not take the case to a jury.”

Colin Moynihan, William K. Rashbaum and Noah Rosenberg contributed reporting.

Article source: http://feeds.nytimes.com/click.phdo?i=1843b5b7af123fd6565be7ad42cfd387

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