No trial for Strauss-Kahn

Prosecutors dropped the case against Dominique Strauss-Kahn because lies told by the hotel maid injured her credibility as a witness.

Dominique Strauss-Kahn walked free this week after a New York judge dismissed criminal sexual-assault charges against him. Prosecutors decided to drop the case against the French politician and former International Monetary Fund chief when it became clear that his alleged victim, hotel maid Nafissatou Diallo, would not make a credible witness. They said Diallo had given several conflicting versions of the May 14 incident, and had lied about her background, even fabricating an account of a gang rape in her home country of Guinea. “If we do not believe her beyond a reasonable doubt,” said a brief filed by the Manhattan district attorney’s office, “we cannot ask a jury to do so.” Strauss-Kahn, who resigned as head of the IMF in the wake of the assault charges, welcomed the dismissal and indicated that he would soon return to France. Diallo’s attorney, meanwhile, said the decision “denied an innocent woman a right to get justice.”

No one emerges from this “extraordinary New York legal saga” looking good, said Jeffrey Toobin in The New Yorker. Diallo found that “victimhood is not a license to lie,” and the D.A.’s office clearly had acted too rashly in slapping cuffs on Strauss-Kahn. But none of that excuses the French politician’s behavior. The rushed sexual encounter with a hotel maid that his lawyer admits took place—with consent, he insists—reveals nothing but “dishonor, if not criminal culpability.”

Actually, our criminal justice system worked just as it should, said Andrew Cohen in The Atlantic. The prosecutors were unafraid to treat an important dignitary like any other suspected criminal, and they responsibly shared evidence of Diallo’s lies with the defendant’s attorney. The Manhattan D.A. did not shirk his “ethical obligation” to drop a case he believed could not be won. It was “a purely American lesson in the rule of law.”

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It’s a lesson Strauss-Kahn won’t forget in a hurry, said the Paris Le Monde. The scandal has “compromised for good” his chances of becoming the next president of France, especially now that a French journalist has also accused him of a sexual assault. The perp walk he was forced to undergo in New York was “barbaric,” but “DSK is above all a victim of his own imprudence.” He has no one to blame but himself.

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