Prosecutors Move to Drop Rape Case Against Dominique Strauss-Kahn
LOWER MANHATTAN — Prosecutors filed a motion Monday to drop rape charges against former International Monetary Fund chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn.
The case once appeared to be a slam dunk against Strauss-Kahn, who had been considered a front-runner for the French presidency. But it devolved in recent weeks after the Manhattan District Attorney's office revealed holes in the account told by the maid who accused Strauss-Kahn of raping her at Midtown's Sofitel hotel.
"At the time of the indictment, all available evidence satisfied us that the complainant was reliable. But evidence gathered in our post-indictment investigation severely undermined her reliability as a witness in this case," the DA's office said in its motion to dismiss the case. "If we do not believe her beyond a reasonable doubt, we cannot ask a jury to do so."
The motion said that the maid, Nafissatou Diallo, gave three different accounts of what happened after the alleged attack in room 2806 of the Sofitel. She also lied about a past sexual assault in her native Guinea, prosecutors said.
Diallo's attorney Kenneth Thompson met briefly with officials from the Manhattan District Attorney's office Monday afternoon. Afterward he told reporters that prosecutors planned to drop the charges.
"The Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance has denied the right of a woman to get justice in a rape case," Thompson said. "He has not only turned his back on the victim but he has also turned his back on the forensic, medical and other physical evidence in this case.
"If the Manhattan District Attorney, who is elected to protect our mothers, our daughters, our sisters, our wives and our loved ones, is not willing to stand up for them when they are raped or sexually assaulted, who will?"
Over the past few weeks, holes have emerged in Diallo's story. As DNAinfo reported last week, she discussed making money off Strauss-Kahn during a phone call with her incarcerated con-man ex-boyfriend the day after the alleged rape took place. Diallo, 32, was also accused or lying about events in her past and on her taxes.
The decision to dump the rape charge evolved during weekly mock trials and brainstorming sessions, where top Manhattan prosecutors and investigators pored over the evidence like military tacticians playing out war games, DNAinfo reported on Monday.
Before his meeting with prosecutors, Thompson filed a motion to ask a judge to take Vance's office off the case and turn it over to a special prosecutor "who will prosecute this case with complete fairness," the document said.
The motion also accused the district attorney's office of leaking "false information" to the media about Diallo, of working to undermine her credibility and of verbally abusing her.
Thompson accuses Assistant District Attorney Joan Illuzzi-Orbon of telling him that "No one with half a brain would ever put her on the stand," according to the court document. He also said that a "key member of the prosecution team repeatedly screamed at and outright disrespected" Diallo.
Assistant District Attorney Ann Prunty allegedly screamed at Diallo and ordered her to "get out" of Illuzzi-Orbon's office, according to Thompson's document.
Strauss-Kahn, 62, was accused of attacking Diallo after she entered his room at the Sofitel to clean it on May 14. He allegedly jumped out the the bathroom naked and tried to rape her. When that didn't work, he forced her to perform oral sex on him, according to court documents.
After the alleged assault, Strauss-Kahn was yanked off an Air France flight at JFK Airport and initially ordered held without bail. At the time, he was considered a flight risk and a would-be Roman Polanski and would flee the country to escape prosecution, prosecutors said.
Eventually, Strauss-Kahn was allowed to post bail and took up residence in a TriBeCa townhouse.
The case started to fall apart weeks ago once reports surfaced questioning Diallo's credibility.
Earlier this month, Diallo filed a lawsuit against Straus-Kahn in the Bronx seeking unspecified damages.
Prosecutors, in Monday's motion, said that "physical, scientific and other evidence" suggests that "a hurried sexual encounter" took place between Strauss-Kahn and Diallo, but that evidence "does not independently establish her claim of a forcible, nonconsensual encounter."
Several women's groups and politicians protested outside the court house the decision to drop the case.
"Every time a rapist walks free more woman are put as risk," said Sonia Ossorio, Executive Director of the National Organization of for Woman in NYC.
She went on to say trial and media coverage became "more about the victim than the defendant who is on trial."