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

ASEAN Ministers to Push for S. China Sea Agreements

According to documents obtained by VOA Khmer, ministers will stand up for 'freedom of navigation, unimpeded lawful maritime commerce, trade and over flight' More

Puerto Rico Defaults on $58M Debt Payment

Payment was due Saturday, default is first in country's 117 years as a United States possession More

Turkish Public Fears Jihadists More Than Kurds

Turkey facing twin threats of terrorism by Islamic State and PKK Kurdish separatists, says President Erdogan’s ruling AK Party 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.
Iraqi Yazidis Fear Death of Their Communityi
X
Sharon Behn
August 03, 2015 2:23 PM
A year ago on August 3, Islamic State militants stormed the homelands of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, killing hundreds of men and enslaving thousands of women. The scenes of desperate Yazidi families crowding on the top of Sinjar mountain without food or water spurred Kurdish fighters into action, an emergency airlift and the start of the U.S. airstrike campaign against the Islamic State Sunni extremists. VOA's Sharon Benh reports from northern Iraq.
Video

Video Iraqi Yazidis Fear Death of Their Community

A year ago on August 3, Islamic State militants stormed the homelands of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, killing hundreds of men and enslaving thousands of women. The scenes of desperate Yazidi families crowding on the top of Sinjar mountain without food or water spurred Kurdish fighters into action, an emergency airlift and the start of the U.S. airstrike campaign against the Islamic State Sunni extremists. VOA's Sharon Benh reports from northern Iraq.
Video

Video Bangkok Warned It Soon Could Be Submerged

Italy's Venice and America's New Orleans are not the only cities gradually submerging. The nearly ten million residents of the Bangkok urban area now must confront warnings the city could become uninhabitable in a few decades. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from the Thai capital.
Video

Video Inclusive Gym Gets People With Disabilities in Fitness Spirit

Individuals with special needs are 58 percent more likely to be obese than the general population. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, they also have an increased likelihood of anxiety, depression and social isolation. But a sports club outside Washington wants to make a difference in these people's lives. With Carol Pearson narrating, VOA's June Soh reports.
Video

Video Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missions

Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Special Olympics Show Competitors' Skill, Determination

Special Olympics competitions will wrap up Saturday in Los Angeles, and the closing ceremony for athletes with intellectual disabilities will be held Sunday night. In a week of competition, athletes have shown what they can do through skill and determination. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Civil Rights Leaders Struggled to Achieve Voting Rights Act

Fifty years ago, lawmakers approved, and U.S. President Lyndon Johnson signed, the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The measure outlawed racial discrimination in voting, giving millions of blacks in many parts of the southern United States federal enforcement of the right to vote. Correspondent Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights leaders who were on the front lines in the struggle for voting rights.
Video

Video Shooter’s Grill: Serving Food with a Touch of the Second Amendment

Shooter's Grill, a restaurant in Rifle, Colorado, attracts visitors from all over the world as well as local patrons. The reason? Waitresses openly carry loaded firearms as they serve food, and customers are welcome to carry them, too. VOA's Enming Liu and Lin Yang paid a visit to Shooter's Grill, and heard different opinions about this unique establishment.
Video

Video Despite Controversy, Business Owner Continues Sale of Confederate Flags

At Cooter’s, a store in rural Sperryville, Virginia, about 120 kilometers west of Washington, D.C., Confederate flags are flying off the shelves. The red, white and blue battle flag, with 13 white stars representing the Confederate states, was carried by southern forces during the U.S. Civil War in the 1860s. The South had seceded from the Union over several key issues of disagreement, including slavery. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

VOA Blogs