Dominique Strauss-Kahn: A Victim of Rush to Judgement?
This morning, the New York Times reported that the case against Dominique Strauss-Kahn is collapsing as investigators have uncovered evidence that his accuser, a 32-year old housekeeper at the Sofitel Hotel, has huge credibility problems. It appears that within a day of making the accusation, she had a recorded jail conversation with someone charged with possessing 400 pounds of marijuana about the benefits of pursuing the charges against Strauss-Kahn. That person, along with others, has deposited about $100,000 into her bank account over the past two years. She also has five cell phone accounts. As well, she claimed that she’d been previously raped and that she’d disclosed that in an asylum application; this was not supported by the application.
Prosecutors had originally sought to hold Mr. Strauss-Kahn without bail, relying in part upon the credibility of the accuser, saying that her story was “compelling and unwavering.” The only reason he was released was because he was able to put up an extraordinary amount of bail and had the means to pay $250,000 per month for a security staff to guard him on house arrest. Mr. Strauss-Kahn was forced to resign from his post as the head of the IMF as a result of his arrest.
According to the Times, although defense attorneys had been making noise about the housekeeper’s credibility from the start, Manhattan DA investigators discovered much of this damning evidence.
The problem is that the DA’s office indicted Mr. Strauss-Kahn quickly, before investigating the credibility of their only witness to the alleged event. It’s cost him his reputation, his freedom, and a ton of money. Were he not such a high profile figure, he’d most likely be locked up at Rikers Island, and the DA’s office would certainly not be devoting the resources to fully investigate their only witness. He would’ve been screwed. Patience and discretion could have prevented this fiasco.
David Benowitz is a Washington, DC defense attorney and founding partner.