News / USA

Protest, Praise After Charges Dismissed Against Former IMF Chief

Former International Monetary Fund leader Dominique Strauss-Kahn, center, leaves Manhattan state Supreme court with his wife Anne Sinclair, left, and attorney Benjamin Brafman in New York, August 23, 2011
Former International Monetary Fund leader Dominique Strauss-Kahn, center, leaves Manhattan state Supreme court with his wife Anne Sinclair, left, and attorney Benjamin Brafman in New York, August 23, 2011
Carolyn Weaver

Saying that a “nightmare for me and my family” is over with the dismissal of sexual-assault charges against him, former International Monetary Fund chief and potential French presidential candidate Dominique Strauss-Kahn reportedly plans to return to France soon.

A New York State Supreme Court Justice agreed Tuesday with the Manhattan District Attorney’s recommendation that the charges be dropped because prosecutors no longer believed the hotel maid who accused Strauss-Kahn, Guinean immigrant Nafissatou Diallo.

Strauss-Kahn’s attorney, Benjamin Brafman, applauded what he called the “courage” of District Attorney Cyrus Vance, Jr., telling reporters, “It is an extraordinary event to have a district attorney stand up in a public courtroom and dismiss an indictment, concluding that the complaining witness is not worthy of belief.”

Vance’s office, which had first aggressively pursued the prosecution, was left to defend itself against protests by some women’s and African-American civic groups. Yasmeen Hassan of the international women’s rights group Equality Now, said Diallo’s admitted false statements to prosecutors, including her lie about having been gang-raped previously in her native Guinea, and her shifting accounts of her actions immediately after the alleged assault, should still not have ruined her chance to seek justice. “The message has been sent very clearly that only certain types of victims, basically who are people who are saints, will be taken seriously by the D.A.’s office,” Hassan said.

Hassan said that Diallo’s account of the details of the alleged sexual attack had not varied. She said a jury also should have been given a chance to judge physical evidence showing Strauss-Kahn’s DNA and semen on Diallo’s uniform and underclothes, and to evaluate the short time frame of about 15 minutes in which the alleged attack occurred. “You believe that a maid would just walk into a room, see a guest and perform oral sex on them consensually, and leave?” Hassan asked, noting that Strauss-Kahn’s lawyers have acknowledged what they claimed was a consensual sexual encounter between their client and Diallo.

However, Stuart Slotnick, a former state prosecutor, applauded Vance’s decision to seek dismissal of the charges. He said that prosecutors had no other ethical choice, given that they themselves no longer trusted the victim’s words, or believed beyond a reasonable doubt in Strauss-Kahn’s guilt. Slotnick said that some cases are impossible to prosecute largely because an alleged victim lacks credibility.

“There may be, unfortunately, cases where there are people that are mentally challenged or have mental illness,” he said, “[and] are so incredible, because they cannot say what happened with certainty, and they change their story, that you just cannot prosecute it – even though there may have been a crime that was committed.” As Slotnick noted, a tenet of the U.S. justice system is that it is better for a guilty person to go free than for an innocent one to be convicted, and so the risk of error is always balanced in favor of a defendant.

Hassan counters that New York prosecutors too often discount sexual-assault victims as not believable, and that after the Strauss-Kahn case, women now will be more afraid to raise the charge. “Nobody is going to come forward after this,” she said. “What we have seen is that a person who has come forward, they have been made into a defendant, and their past has been scrutinized and laid out in the media. Already, Department of Justice statistics are that more than 60 percent of rapes are not reported. I think the numbers will go up after this."

Vance’s office scheduled a private meeting with women’s groups the day after the charges against Strauss-Kahn were dismissed to discuss its handling of sexual-assault cases. Earlier, it released a statement saying it was committed to prosecuting such cases, including those with victims who have, “imperfect pasts,” as long as prosecutors believed they are telling the truth.

For his part, Strauss-Kahn reportedly is considering filing a countersuit against Diallo, who sued him in civil court in July. When he returns home to France, he will also face investigation into another alleged sexual assault that the complainant, writer Tristane Banon, says took place in 2003.

You May Like

China Investigates Former Powerful Security Chief

Former security chief and member of Politburo Standing Committee, Zhou Yongkang, under investigation for suspected 'serious disciplinary violation' More

India, US Look to Reset Ties During Kerry Visit

This week's talks will be first high level interaction between two countries since Prime Minister Narendra Modi took charge More

Video Young African Leadership Program Renamed to Honor Mandela

YALI program, launched by President Obama in 2010, aims to build skills in business, entrepreneurship, public management and civic leadership More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spati
X
Reasey Poch
July 28, 2014 7:18 PM
China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video ESA Spacecraft to Land on a Comet

After a long flight through deep space, a European Space Agency probe is finally approaching its target -- a comet millions of kilometers away from earth. Scientists say the mission may lead to some startling discoveries about the origins of the water on earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Africans Arrive in US for Leadership Program

President Barack Obama's Young African Leadership Initiative has brought hundreds of young Africans to the United States for a six-week program aimed at building their knowledge and skills in fields such as public administration and business. Out of the 50,000 young Africans who applied for the program, just one percent was accepted. VOA's Laurel Bowman caught up with some of those who made the cut and has this report.
Video

Video In Honduras, Amnesty Rumors Fuel US Migration Surges

False rumors in Central America are fueling the current surge of undocumented young people being apprehended at the U.S. border. The inaccurate claims suggest the U.S. will give amnesty to young migrants from the region. As VOA's Brian Padden reports from Honduras, these rumors trace back to President Obama's 2012 executive order to halt deportations for some young undocumented immigrants already living in the United States.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid