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

Video One Year After Thai Coup, No End in Sight for Military Rule

Since carrying out the May 22, 2014 coup, the general has retired from the military but is still firmly in charge More

Goodbye, New York

This is what the fastest-growing big cities in America have in common More

Job-Seeking Bangladeshis Risk Lives to Find Work

The number of Bangladeshi migrants on smugglers’ boats bound for Southeast Asian countries has soared in the past two years 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.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs