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

Turkey's Erdogan: Women Not Equal to Men

Speaking at conference in Istanbul, President Erdogan says Islam has defined a position for women: motherhood More

Ahead of SAARC Summit, Subdued Expectations

Some regional analysts say distrust between Pakistani, Indian officials has slowed SAARC's progress over the year More

Philippines Leery of Development on Reef Reclamation in S. China Sea

Chinese land reclamation projects in area have been ongoing for years, but new satellite imagery reportedly shows China’s massive construction project 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.
Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Changei
X
November 24, 2014 10:09 PM
Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Change

Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Mali Attempts to Shut Down Ebola Transmission Chain

Senegal and Nigeria were able to stop small Ebola outbreaks by closely monitoring those who had contact with the sick person and quickly isolating anyone with symptoms. Mali is now scrambling to do the same. VOA’s Anne Look reports from Mali on what the country is doing to shut down the chain of transmission.
Video

Video Ukraine Marks Anniversary of Deadly 1930s Famine

During a commemoration for millions who died of starvation in Ukraine in the early 1930s, President Petro Poroshenko lashed out at Soviet-era totalitarianism for causing the deaths and accused today’s Russian-backed rebels in the east of using similar tactics. VOA’s Daniel Shearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests at a Crossroads

New public opinion polls in Hong Kong indicate declining support for pro-democracy demonstrations after weeks of street protests. VOA’s Bill Ide in Guangzhou and Pros Laput in Hong Kong spoke with protesters and observers about whether demonstrators have been too aggressive in pushing for change.
Video

Video US Immigration Relief Imminent for Mixed-Status Families

Tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants in the Washington, D.C., area may benefit from a controversial presidential order announced this week. It's not a path to citizenship, as some activists hoped. But it will allow more immigrants who arrived as children or who have citizen children, to avoid deportation and work legally. VOA's Victoria Macchi talks with one young man who benefited from an earlier presidential order, and whose parents may now benefit after years of living in fear.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid