The sexual assault case against Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the 62 year old former International Monetary Fund head which has so captured the public attention for the last 3 1/2 months, was dropped by the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office on August 23, 2011. Strauss-Kahn, the 62 year old former head of the International Monetary Fund, was accused of sexually assaulting Hotel Sofitel housekeeper Nafissatou Diallo on May 14, 2011. Ms. Diallo, 32, accused Strauss- Kahn of forcing her to engage in non-consensual oral sex when she came in to clean his room. The District Attorney’s Office made clear in requesting that Judge Michael Obus drop all charges that Ms. Diallo had major credibility problems. These included the fact that Ms. Diallo had lied about being gang raped in her native Guinea; was recorded discussing the finances of Mr. Strauss-Kahn and stating: “I know what I’m doing”; lied on an asylum application submitted to immigration authorities, and on the date of the alleged attack, continued to clean rooms after she had purportedly been sexually assaulted by Strauss-Kahn.
The ADA handling the case stated: “The nature and number of the complainant’s falsehoods leave us unable to credit her version of events beyond a reasonable doubt. If we do not believe her beyond a reasonable doubt, we cannot ask a jury to do so.” Supposedly, this same ADA also remarked that “no one with half a brain would put her [Diallo] on the stand.”
The standard of proof to prove a criminal case, as most people know, is beyond a reasonable doubt, which is an extremely difficult standard to obtain, even in case with the strongest of evidence. The slightest of doubts, as long as there is some basis in fact for those doubts, is enough to result in a not guilty verdict. Each of the credibility issues that Ms. Diallo presented would be enough to defeat the case against Strauss-Kahn, who hired very experienced and competent counsel to defend him against the allegations. It seems likely that the Manhattan District Attorney, Cy Vance, was looking to establish his reputation as a tough and aggressive D.A., having assumed the office only one year earlier from the legendary Robert Morgenthau. Morgenthau was selected by President John F. Kennedy in 1961 as the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York and was elected to the New York County D.A. Office in 1974.
In all likelihood, Vance acted quickly to indict Strauss-Kahn after he had attempted to leave the United States immediately after the alleged assault (he was on an Air France jet at JFK airport when he was arrested) to return to France. Vance may even have been swayed by numerous reports that Strauss-Khan had been accused of sexual assaults in France on at least two occasions previously. Further, the United States has no extradition treaty with France, meaning that had Strauss-Kahn left the United States on May 14, 2011, he might never have returned to face the charges against him. This is precisely what occurred with famed director (and husband of “Helter Skelter” murder victim Sharon Tate) Roman Polanski, who pled guilty to sexual assault in Los Angeles in 1977 and then fled to France to avoid sentencing. Polanski has never returned to the United States since the plea. If Mr. Vance had more time to investigate pre-indictment rather than after Mr. Strauss-Kahn had been charged, it is likely that the D.A.’s office could have been spared the embarrassment and criticism it is now facing for the “rush to judgment.”
Local women’s groups have criticized Vance, claiming that the dismissal will have a chilling effect on other women coming forward to report sexual assaults. Diallo’s attorney attempted to file a motion to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate the charges against Strauss-Kahn, but this motion was denied.
Ms. Diallo has a filed a multimillion dollar civil lawsuit against Strauss-Kahn, but the evidence of the dismissal of the criminal case will be introduced in the defense of the civil action to refute the allegations. On the other hand, the O.J. Simpson civil case verdict, in which he was found liable civilly (in an amount over 30 million dollars) for the wrongful deaths of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman (despite being found not guilty in the original murder case) should be a cautionary reminder to Mr. Strauss-Kahn that he is not in the clear just yet.
Contact The Westchester County Criminal Defense Lawyers online or toll free at 914-224-3086 if you or a loved one has been charged with a crime or traffic infraction for a free consultation with an experienced attorney to discuss the charges against you, your rights and legal options.