It was a media frenzy all over again in Lower Manhattan on Tuesday at what appeared to be the end of the four-month saga involving former International Monetary Fund chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn and Ghanaian immigrant Nafissatou Diallo. A judge dismissed the case involving the French former IMF head, who was accused of sexually assaulting the hotel maid in May.
Appearing in State Supreme Court with his wife and lawyers, all charges against Strauss-Kahn were dismissed by Judge Michael Obus, as was the grand jury sex assault indictment, after Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance submitted a 25-page court filing indicating a lack of evidence.
The motion gives graphic details about the victim’s account of the alleged attack and explains that she altered her story. Reports indicate that Diallo was made aware of the decision to dismiss Strauss-Kahn’s case on Monday.
Strauss-Kahn was accused of sexually assaulting Diallo, who is a maid at the Sofitel hotel in Manhattan in May. Diallo claims she was raped, while Strauss-Kahn said that the encounter was consensual.
“This was not a forcible encounter,” said Strauss-Kahn’s attorney, Benjamin Brafman, at a press conference outside the courthouse. “You can engage in inappropriate behavior, perhaps, but that is much different from a crime.”
Just before the ruling, the judge denied the victim’s lawyer’s request for a special prosecutor for the case, citing that nothing had indicated that Vance was unable to adequately handle the case on his own.
After the dismissal, Vance held a press conference for reporters in his Lower Manhattan offices. Soon after the press conference started, Tuesday’s light earthquake began and the assembled reporters were forced to evacuate the building. The press conference was canceled.
In a statement, Vance said that the reasoning behind the move to dismiss the case came down to a lack of evidence that proved that a crime had in fact been committed. The district attorney’s office was also not sure a jury would convict Strauss-Khan on the case as it had been investigated.
“The crimes charged in the indictment required the people to prove that Strauss-Kahn engaged in a sexual encounter using force and without the complainant’s consent,” Vance said. “Proof of these two critical elements-force and lack of consent-rests solely on the complaining witness’ testimony. But her testimony was fatally damaged for several key reasons, which are outlined in the document we filed in court yesterday [Tuesday].”
Vance also added that he believes that, after deliberation, the decision was “right and ethical.” He said that seeking justice for sex crimes and protecting immigrants are some of the highest priorities for the district attorney’s office-however, one side should not be blindly advocated for.
Along with the multitude of members of the press from around the globe, protesters were outside of the courthouse once again voicing their outrage over the case. The protesters, mostly women of color, held signs and called not only for Strauss-Kahn to go to jail, but for Vance to step down. Signs protesters were holding ranged from “DSK treats women like property” to “Shame on you, Cy Vance.”
The Strauss-Kahn case has raised issues of class, race and the treatment of people in political power since the allegations were made in May. At the time, Strauss-Kahn was an internationally high-ranking official who was predicted to be the next president of France, and Diallo was a hotel maid and African immigrant.
Speaking to the press outside the courthouse, Diallo’s attorney, Kenneth Thompson, maintains that a crime was committed and that there is forensic and DNA evidence to prove that Diallo was assaulted. Diallo has filed a civil suit against Strauss-Kahn.
“District Attorney Vance has abandoned an innocent woman and denied an innocent woman the right to get justice in a rape case. And by doing so, he has also abandoned other women who will be raped in the future or sexually assaulted,” Thompson said.