Strauss-Kahn sexual assault case dismissed, appealed

By REUTERS
August 23, 2011 19:41

New york judge drops all criminal sexual assault charges against ex-IMF chief; Strauss Kahn not yet free to return to France.

3 minute read.



Dominique Strauss-Kahn

Dominique Strauss-Kahn 311 R. (photo credit: REUTERS)

NEW YORK- A New York judge dropped all criminal sexual assault charges against ex-IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn on Tuesday after prosecutors lost faith in the credibility of his accuser.

But the formal end of the case awaited the outcome of a last-ditch emergency appeal.

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New York State Supreme Court Justice Michael Obus accepted the prosecutors' request for dismissal of all charges. The move left the man once seen as the leading contender to be the next president of France close to freedom and the chance to try to rebuild his tarnished political career.

The former head of the International Monetary Fund appeared in court with his wife Anne Sinclair by his side and the pair left the hearing smiling, amid a throng of media.

He later issued a statement saying his life in recent months had been a "nightmare" and that he looked forward to life returning to more normal times.

Strauss-Kahn was not yet free to return to France, after New York State Supreme Court Justice Michael Obus stayed his dismissal of the case for an emergency appeal.

A lawyer for the accuser, hotel maid Nafissatou Diallo, had requested a special prosecutor to continue the criminal case.

Earlier on Tuesday, Obus dismissed the request. But Diallo's lawyers appealed that decision. Obus said the appeal's court would rule on that later on Tuesday, meaning Strauss-Kahn must await that verdict before he is free to return to France.

Prosecutors with the Manhattan District Attorney's office on Monday outlined how they lost faith in the accuser, hotel maid Nafissatou Diallo, a 32-year-old immigrant from Guinea who alleged Strauss-Kahn attacked her in his luxury hotel suite and forced her to perform oral sex.

While her account of the assault remained steadfast, Diallo told a series of lies about her past and about what happened immediately after the incident in the $3,000-a-night suite in New York's Sofitel hotel on May 14, undermining her credibility, prosecutors said.

Physical evidence was unable to prove lack of consent, leaving the case hinging on the believability of the accuser.

But with her testimony changing again and again and as more and more lies about her past emerged, prosecutors concluded in a 25-page filing, "If we do not believe her beyond a reasonable doubt, we cannot ask a jury to do so." Strauss-Kahn thanked friends in France and in the United States "who have believed in my innocence" and said he was "most deeply grateful to my wife and family." "We will have nothing further to say about this matter and we look forward to returning to our home and resuming something of a more normal life," he said.

Political Future?

Strauss-Kahn, a former French finance minister, could make a dramatic return to French public life, but with his image tarnished by widespread reporting in France about his sexual behavior, most political analysts doubt he would risk competing with President Nicolas Sarkozy on April's ballot.

"Whatever has been said, a man with the abilities of Dominique Strauss-Kahn can be useful to his country in the months and years to come," Francois Hollande, the frontrunner among six candidates for the Socialist primary, told France Inter radio.

Asked whether Strauss-Kahn could take part in the October vote to choose the party's presidential candidate, Hollande said: "That depends on him." French Socialists welcomed the dropping of charges and said they hoped Strauss-Kahn would return to public life where his expertise on global economics was sorely needed.

Socialist presidential hopeful Manuel Valls called the affair "an extreme waste for Strauss-Kahn and for France" and even ruling party Defence Minister Gerard Longuet said he deserved better and looked forward to listening to his ideas.


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