The Times nails Vance to the wall

Below are highlights from today’s front page New York Times story with the wildly understated headline, “Strauss-Kahn Case Adds to Doubts on Prosecutor.” As you will see, the Times all but confirms between the lines what VFR’s exclusive source revealed yesterday—that it was Sex Crimes Unit chief Lisa Friel who, with her knowledge of the behavior of complainants in sex crime cases, doubted the maid and opposed indicting DSK, and not only was Friel’s judgment overridden, she was forced out of her job.

Even a member of the finance committee for Mr. Vance’s 2009 campaign, Gerald L. Shargel, a Manhattan defense lawyer, questioned how the case had been handled.

“What’s most curious is hearing the line prosecutors saying early on that they had a strong case, a very strong case,” Mr. Shargel said. “Obviously, they hadn’t looked very hard. I have enormous respect for Cy as a prosecutor, but this is like a series of bad dreams.” …

Some of the most pointed complaints about Mr. Vance are emanating from the district attorney’s office itself, according to numerous interviews with prosecutors and other officials. They spoke on the condition that their names not be used, saying they feared reprisals.

Several said they worried that cases were often pursued with an excessive focus on whether they would generate publicity. Some said Mr. Vance had taken away the discretion of midlevel prosecutors, sometimes to the detriment of cases….

After Mr. Strauss-Kahn’s arrest, the district attorney’s office faced the question of whether to ask a judge to keep him in custody.

To do so, the office had to obtain an indictment within five days. The alternative was to agree to a bail package so that prosecutors could take their time investigating the case before deciding whether to indict, according to four people briefed on the matter.

In the end, Mr. Vance chose a quick indictment, drawing criticism that he had moved before he knew of the accuser’s background.

Prosecutors have said in court that they decided to seek the indictment and to keep Mr. Strauss-Kahn in custody to avoid the possibility of Mr. Strauss-Kahn’s fleeing the country.

The case also unfolded as a rift had already developed between Mr. Vance and the chief of the office’s sex crimes unit, Lisa Friel. She stepped down last week under circumstances that were not entirely clear. It did not appear that her decision was directly related to the Strauss-Kahn case.

Early on, Mr. Vance took the case away from the sex crimes unit and gave it to two other experienced assistant district attorneys. [LA replies: Right—he took the case away from Friel after he had overridden her urgent advice that he avoid a rush to judgment, and then, a few weeks later, he is evidently pushing her out of her job. A coincidence?]

Some people in the office said that decision hurt the office’s handling of the case because those prosecutors were not as familiar with the types of problems that sex crimes prosecutors routinely face: a victim with a troubled background; a he-said, she-said story. [LA replies: Translation: Friel picked up on the maid’s lies, while the publicity-hungry, naive Vance did not.]

With an experienced sex crimes prosecutor, an official in the office said, “some of these very things that have come up, or even some things that might have come up during deeper examination by people who were experienced in this, might have come up faster.”

Posted by Lawrence Auster at July 03, 2011 11:27 AM | Send

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