By Shayna Jacobs, Kareem Johnson and Nicole Bode
MANHATTAN — Concerns about the credibility of the maid who accused former IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn of sexually assaulting her in a Midtown hotel room prompted prosecutors to agree to release the grinning French pol without bail Friday in a stunning twist in the high-profile case.
In a scathing letter to Strauss-Khan's defense team, the DA's office said that the accuser changed her story about the alleged May 14 attack at the Sofitel after testifying before a grand jury.
"After the woman told her version of the alleged attack on May 14 in suite 2806 — that is the version she testified to before a grand jury — she changed her story substantially," they wrote.
Since then, "[she] has...admitted the account was false and that after the incident in Suite 2806, she proceeded to clean a nearby room and then returned to Suite 2806 and began to clean that suite before she reported the incident to her supervisor."
Earlier, she said that ran out of the room after the alleged attack and immediately told a supervisor.
The letter said that the woman admitted to cheating on her taxes by claiming a dependent who was really someone else's child and that she lied about her income to qualify for subsidized housing.
They also wrote that she lied about "her history, background, present circumstances and personal relationships," but did not elaborate.
And they said that the 32-year-old Guinean immigrant repeatedly lied about a series of events related to her application for political asylum, concocting a story about her husband being tortured and killed by the opposing regime and lying about an alleged gang rape.
Prosecutors charged in the note that the stories were "part of a narrative" that someone else had instructed her to memorize.
Despite raising questions about the accuser's credibility in the three-page letter, the DA's office still plans to pursue the case.
"Although it is clear that the strength of the case has been affected by the substantial credibility issues relating to the complaining witness, we are not moving to dismiss the case at this time," Assistant District Attorney Joan Illuzzi-Orbon said in court.
But the claims about the accuser and Strauss-Kahn's release were blasted by her lawyer, Kenneth Thompson, who called District Attorney Cy Vance Jr. a liar who's "too afraid to try this case."
"All of these statements that were leaked by the District Attorney's office regarding whether she was involved in drugs — that's a lie. District Attorney Cy Vance is too afraid to try this case," Thompson said outside the courthouse.
The move to release Strauss-Kahn comes a day after the New York Times reported that prosecutors were growing increasingly skeptical about the accuser's rape claims and became aware of a possible connection to a criminal ring that has funneled tens of thousands of dollars into her bank account.
Thompson also slammed Vance for being "afraid to lose this case like he recently lost the high profile case against the police officers" accused of raping a drunk woman in the East Village, as well as the Deutsche Bank case, in which two of the three construction supervisors who were on trial have been acquitted.
"The DA has an obligation to stand up for this rape victim," Thompson added.
Moments afterwards, Vance fired back.
"The protection of the rights of sex crime victims is among the highest priorities of this office," he said. "We believe we have done nothing but to support her and do everything in our power to maintain her privacy and keep her safe and we will continue to do so."
A smiling Strauss-Kahn waltzed out of Manhattan Supreme Court just before 11:45 a.m. Friday, with his arm around his journalist wife Anne Sinclair, after his lawyers' successful bid to spring him from house arrest and secure the return of his $6 million bail.
"We are absolutely convinced that while today is the first giant step in the right direction, the next step will lead to the complete dismissal of the charges," his lawyer, Benjamin Brafman, said after court.
Brafman, who appeared with attorney Marc Agnifilo, commended Vance "for doing what was appropriate."
He added that Judge Michael Obus showed "the courage and independence to release Mr. Strauss-Kahn on bail, and had he not done so ... Mr. Strauss-Kahn could have been in jail for six weeks" on the questionable case.
Strauss-Kahn had been under house arrest and 24-hour surveillance pending the outcome of the criminal case.
It was unclear whether he would remain in the $50,000-a-month apartment now that he is no longer required to stay in New York pending the outcome of the case.
But he is barred from leaving the country, Brafman said.
A delivery man with about $50 worth of balloons arrived at the luxury Franklin Street pad where Strauss-Kahn had been under house arrest. An elderly man signed for them, although it was not clear who the gift was for.
"Enjoy your freedom on Independence Day," said the note, according to the delivery man, Sean Hershkowitz, of Balloon Saloon in TriBeCa.
The apparent implosion of Strauss-Kahn's case comes on the heels of another potential flub by the DA's office after the lawyers for the NYPD cops who were accused of rape convinced a judge to postpone their sentencing amid concerns that the DA's office witheld taped conversations from an HBO documentary on the sex crimes unit.
Both cases are being handled by the DA's Sex Crimes unit, whose chief Lisa Friel is reportedly stepping down after more than a decade at the helm, the Times reported.
Officials told the paper that the accuser made a phone call to an inmate to discuss the possible financial benefits of pursuing the charges in connection with the alleged sex attack.
That inmate was among a number of people who dumped $100,000 into her bank account over the past two years, the Times said.
Thompson denied the published claims that the accuser has connections to drugs and criminal activity and said she had been genitally mutilated in Guinea. He also said the woman did call an inmate to discuss the attack, but didn't know he was a drug dealer.
"It is a fact here that the victim made some mistakes, but that doesn't mean that she's not a rape victim," he said.
Thompson said that he spoke to the victim Friday morning and that she planned to come forward to speak publicly about her ordeal.
"She's not going to stay in hiding anymore. She's going to tell you what Dominique Strauss-Kahn did to her, and she's going to tell you what prosecutors did to her," Thompson said.
"We don't have confidence that they're ever going to put DSK on trial."