Strauss-Kahn: judge dismisses all charges
DOMINIQUE Strauss-Kahn declared his “nightmare” was over after a judge threw out all sexual assault charges against the former head of the International Monetary Fund.
All charges against 62-year-old Mr Strauss-Kahn over the “hurried sexual encounter” on May 14 with Nafissatou Diallo, a maid at New York's Sofitel Hotel, were dismissed by Judge Michael Obus.
The decision ended a 101-day affair that captivated the world and appeared to end the career of Mr Strauss-Kahn, who had been described as France's president-in-waiting.
Mr Strauss-Kahn, surrounded by bodyguards, said: “This is the end of a terrible and unjust ordeal. I'm eager to return to my country.”
Kenneth Thompson, an attorney for Miss Diallo, said the ordeal was nothing compared with his client's.
The 33-year-old Guinean single mother maintains that Mr Strauss-Kahn violently assaulted her and forced her to perform oral sex after she fought off his attempted rape when she arrived to clean his room.
In a court filing, Mr Thompson reiterated that Miss Diallo's physical injuries and “torn pantyhose” were proof that this “innocent, hard-working immigrant” had simply not consented to intercourse.
“District Attorney Cyrus Vance has abandoned an innocent woman and abandoned other women who will be sexually assaulted in the future,” Mr Thompson said. “He has denied the right to justice.”
In a packed courtroom, Joan Illuzzi-Orbon, an assistant district attorney, said “scientific and other evidence” had established that the sexual encounter took place. But “proof of two critical elements - force and lack of consent - would rest solely on the testimony” of Miss Diallo.
By giving three different versions of her movements after the incident, and, “most egregiously”, admitting that a “vivid, highly detailed” recollection of being gang raped in her home country was in fact not true, she had therefore “severely undermined her reliability as a witness”, Ms Illuzzi-Orbon said.
“Our inability to believe the complainant beyond reasonable doubt means we cannot in good faith ask a jury to do that,” she said.
This, however, “should in no way suggest that we in any way condone the defendant's behaviour”.
Judge Obus dismissed the indictment after just 10 minutes.
A last-ditch appeal by Mr Thompson against his refusal to remove Mr Vance and appoint a special prosecutor was rejected within hours, freeing Mr Strauss-Kahn to collect his passport and leave New York.
Miss Diallo's lawyers will now press on with a civil lawsuit through which they hope to secure financial damages for the alleged “violent, sadistic attack”.
Benjamin Brafman, a lawyer for Mr Strauss-Kahn, said his client might file his own counter-suit, because he had “suffered enormous damages” from Miss Diallo's allegations.
Despite the turn of events in New York, the French writer and journalist who claims Mr Strauss-Kahn tried to rape her eight years ago is more determined than ever to bring him to justice, her lawyer said.
The Paris prosecutor has opened a preliminary inquiry into a complaint by Tristane Banon, who alleges the former IMF chief lunged at her like a “rutting chimpanzee” as he tried to rape her in Paris eight years ago.
But a judicial source said the French complaint was likely to be dropped as prosecutors were struggling to gather evidence supporting a charge of attempted rape.