DSK case falling apart

The hotel maid who accused Dominique Strauss-Kahn of sexual assault has a “substantial credibility issue.”

With their case collapsing, prosecutors met with Dominique Strauss-Kahn’s legal team this week in an attempt to work out a plea bargain to settle sexual-assault charges against him. The Manhattan District Attorney’s office sought the meeting after releasing Strauss-Kahn from house arrest and disclosing that the hotel maid who’d accused him of sexual assault had a “substantial credibility issue.” The maid, an immigrant from Guinea, admitted to lying about being gang-raped in her home country on her asylum application, and was taped telling a drug dealer on a prison telephone that it was worth pursuing legal charges against Strauss-Kahn because he had a lot of money.

The woman’s lawyer said she had “made some mistakes. That doesn’t mean she isn’t a rape victim.” Her testimony, he said, was supported by forensic evidence that included semen on her maid’s uniform and vaginal bruising. In France this week, novelist Tristane Banon, 32, filed charges accusing Strauss-Kahn of attempting to rape her in 2003. His lawyers labeled Banon’s claims “imaginary,” and said they would sue for slander.

So the maid is a “shady character,” said Joanna Molloy in the New York Daily News. It doesn’t mean that the “horny Frenchman” is innocent. If this case collapses, it will send “a message to rape victims that pressing charges is futile.” Au contraire, this “stunning reversal of fortune” shows our legal system’s strength, said Joe Nocera in The New York Times. Prosecutors trusted a hotel maid who made a “credible accusation against a man with enormous power.” And when her credibility crumbled, they admitted the case’s flaws. In France—where commentators are proud that “elites are rarely held to account”—such equality before the law doesn’t exist. “I am glad I live here.’’

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Yes, “the system worked,” said Ruth Marcus in The Washington Post. But only after Strauss-Kahn lost his IMF post and, most likely, his chance to run in next year’s French presidential election. Prosecutors should have done their homework before ruining DSK’s reputation. As the French say, “C’est une catastrophe.

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