submitted yesterday by prosecutors to the judge in moving for a dismissal of the case (though previous reports said the meeting was supposed to take place today):
at VFR on July 4, the prosecutors waited three weeks after that “fatal” revelation (which took place in the same meeting as the rolling on the floor incident on June 9) to inform the judge on June 30 of Diallo’s credibility problems. Why didn’t they tell the judge immediately? Either they were waiting to get more on her, particularly the translation from the Fulani language of her phone conversation with her prison friend, which took a long time, or they were reluctant to cut the legs from under a black female Third World complainant whom they had previously portrayed as a saint and whose veracity they had described as unimpugnable.
All of which points again to the egregious error the prosecutors made when they overrode Sex Crimes Unit chief Lisa Friel’s urgent warnings about the maid’s possible untruthfulness and about the need to proceed with caution in the case and instead indicted Strauss-Kahn immediately, a step unquestionably driven by considerations of political correctness and feminism, and probably also by DA Cyrus Vance Jr.’s desire for publicity.
Well, he got publicity all right.
August 22, 2011
District Attorney Asks Judge to Drop Strauss-Kahn Case
By WILLIAM K. RASHBAUM and JOHN ELIGON
Prosecutors from the Manhattan district attorney’s office formally moved on Monday to dismiss the three-month-old sexual assault case against Dominique Strauss-Kahn, filing a 25-page motion that serves as their intricate and devastating anatomy of a case collapsing.
The document laid out how prosecutors went from characterizing Mr. Strauss-Kahn’s accuser as a credible woman whose account was “unwavering” to one who was “persistently, and at times inexplicably, untruthful in describing matters of both great and small significance.” Because eventually prosecutors could no longer believe her, they wrote, they could not ask a jury to do so.
Prosecutors said they had accumulated enough evidence to show that Mr. Strauss-Kahn, who was managing director of the International Monetary Fund at the time of his arrest, “engaged in a hurried sexual encounter” with his accuser, a housekeeper at the Sofitel New York, a hotel near Times Square.
Because none of the evidence established force or a lack of consent, the motion said, the case would hinge on the testimony of the woman, Nafissatou Diallo.
Ms. Diallo’s account of what happened during and after the alleged assault began to develop inconsistencies, however. Even more troubling to prosecutors was what they said was a “pattern of untruthfulness” about her past.
That included a convincingly delivered story of being gang raped by soldiers in her native Guinea; she later acknowledged that she had fabricated the story, and prosecutors characterized her ability to recount a fictionalized sexual assault with complete conviction as being “fatal” to her credibility.
Another issue was that she had denied that she was interested in making money from the case, despite a recorded conversation that prosecutors said captured her discussing just that with her fiancé, a detainee in an immigration jail in Arizona, shortly after the encounter in the hotel.
The document, filed in State Supreme Court in Manhattan, asks Justice Michael J. Obus to dismiss the seven-count indictment against Mr. Strauss-Kahn. Justice Obus is expected to comply with the request on Tuesday.
The recommendation for dismissal also, in practical terms, ends a tumultuous relationship between the office of the district attorney, Cyrus R. Vance Jr., and Ms. Diallo, a 33-year-old immigrant who said Mr. Strauss-Kahn, 62, attacked her when she went to clean his suite.
Her lawyer, Kenneth P. Thompson, said the motion was “a hatchet job on Ms. Diallo’s credibility.”
“The prosecutors have basically adopted the defense arguments,” he said. “They appear to bend over backwards to try to excuse their decision to run away from this case.”
Mr. Strauss-Kahn’s lawyers, William W. Taylor III and Benjamin Brafman, said in a statement that they had maintained that their client was innocent. “We also maintained that there were many reasons to believe that Mr. Strauss-Kahn’s accuser was not credible,” the statement said. “Mr. Strauss-Kahn and his family are grateful that the district attorney’s office took our concerns seriously and concluded on its own that this case cannot proceed further.”
The prosecutors’ treatise on the case seemed meant for an audience beyond Justice Obus. The case has attracted worldwide attention, largely because of Mr. Strauss-Kahn’s stature, as the leader of the fund and the front-runner for the Socialist nomination for French president, and the lurid story line of a privileged man being accused of taking advantage of a hotel housekeeper.
In laying out the circumstances in such detail, Mr. Vance also was giving a domestic audience, including Manhattan voters, an explanation for his decision. He may also have sought to address criticism from black leaders and women’s groups that he should proceed to trial.
In the document, prosecutors say they do not necessarily shy away from using as a witness someone who has lied or committed crimes in the past.
But they said “the nature and number of the complainant’s falsehoods leave us unable to credit her version of events beyond a reasonable doubt, whatever the truth may be about the encounter” at the hotel.
“If we do not believe her beyond a reasonable doubt,” they added, “we cannot ask a jury to do so.”
Indeed, in a footnote, the assistant district attorneys handling the case, Joan Illuzzi-Orbon and John McConnell, wrote that the motion explained the basis for their request that the charges be dismissed, but made no factual findings.
“Rather,” they said, “we simply no longer have confidence beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant is guilty.”
The motion noted the lack of physical and medical evidence to support a claim of a forcible or nonconsensual attack. Ms. Diallo and Mr. Strauss-Kahn did not have the other’s DNA underneath their fingernails; its presence could have supported the notion of a struggle. Prosecutors also said that presenting the case to a jury, despite their own growing doubts, would violate the custom in their office: that prosecutors must themselves be convinced of a defendant’s guilt before bringing a case to trial.
Ms. Illuzzi-Orbon, Mr. McConnell and a third prosecutor, Ann Prunty, met with Ms. Diallo and Mr. Thompson on Monday afternoon to inform them of the decision to drop the case. The meeting lasted 20 or 30 seconds, and the prosecutors accused her of lying but would not answer her questions, Mr. Thompson said.
He immediately held a news conference, saying Mr. Vance had denied the right of a woman to get justice in a rape case.
Mr. Thompson has filed a lawsuit for Ms. Diallo against Mr. Strauss-Kahn, seeking unspecified damages. He also filed a motion on Monday seeking the appointment of a special prosecutor in the case.
Mr. Vance’s office has come under some criticism for the decision shortly after Mr. Strauss-Kahn’s arrest on May 14 to reject an agreement that would have freed him on bail and allowed them more time to investigate, and to learn more about Ms. Diallo, before bringing an indictment.
While that more deliberative course might have had the same ultimate result, it could have helped avoid the early pronouncements that she was credible and “unwavering.”
The new motion shed no light on the bail decision.
After the brief meeting between prosecutors and the accuser’s team, a chaotic scene unfolded outside, with reporters and onlookers mixing with representatives from women’s groups and elected officials.
Sonia Ossorio, the executive director of the New York City chapter of the National Organization for Women, said Ms. Diallo had presented a complicated case that had been “mishandled by many people, including the victim’s lawyer.” But she said, “The prospect of Dominique Strauss-Kahn simply walking away scot-free is appalling.”
Reaction in France to the news on Monday was mixed, with many expressing pleasure with Mr. Vance’s decision but noting that Mr. Strauss-Kahn’s reputation had been damaged, especially among female voters.
Mr. Strauss-Kahn faces another investigation in France. A writer, Tristane Banon, claims he attempted to rape her in 2003. French prosecutors are investigating the charge.
[end of Times article]
Rhona N. writes:
James N. writes:
Charles P. writes: