Anger as DSK case collapsesJames A. Cohen in The World Today, August 23, 2011
Jane Cowan reported this story on Tuesday, August 23, 2011 12:40:00
ELEANOR HALL: It stirred an international media frenzy. Now the case against the former head of the International Monetary Fund has collapsed.
The New York judge handling the sexual assault charges against Dominique Strauss-Kahn is expected to dismiss them all tomorrow.
As North America correspondent, Jane Cowan reports, prosecutors said they could no longer rely on the credibility of the accuser.
PROSTESTER SHOUTING: Yellow! Yellow!
JANE COWAN: It was an unruly scene as Dominique Strauss-Kahn's accuser appeared in New York today amid news her case had fallen apart.
PROTESTER SHOUTING: We got DNA! What's up with the DNA?
JANE COWAN: A women's rights group shouted slogans, declaring New York the rape capital of America and camera crews jostled.
The case that began with the sensational accusation that the former head of the International Monetary Fund had forced a housekeeper to perform oral sex in a New York hotel room had fizzled.
Prosecutors say whatever really happened back in May, the nature and number of falsehoods told by the 32-year-old maid had irreparably damaged her case.
In documents filed today they said they were unable to trust her version of events beyond a reasonable doubt and so couldn't expect a jury to either.
The decision incensed the woman's lawyer, Kenneth Thompson, who condemned the District Attorney for abandoning the case.
KENNETH THOMPSON: The Manhattan District Attorney, Cyrus Vance, has denied the right of a woman to get justice in a rape case. He has not only turned his back on this innocent victim, but he has also turned his back on the forensic, medical and other physical evidence in this case.
JANE COWAN: It wasn't a complete surprise. Prosecutors had grown increasingly concerned about inconsistencies in the woman's account of her background and what she did straight after the incident.
They were also uneasy about a tape recorded conversation where they said she talked about exploiting Strauss-Kahn's wealth and they were said to lack the evidence to prove any encounter between the two was forced.
But criminal law professor, Jim Cohen, from Fordham University, says you can't necessarily blame the District Attorney.
JAMES COHEN: Well I don't think it leaves a bad mark. I mean the prosecutor did precisely what the prosecutor is supposed to do, analyse a case and proceed forward with an indictment and a trial, or a guilty plea, if that's warranted, and the reverse if it's not warranted.
The problem isn't with Vance's office in particular. The problem is that our system basically requires that you arrest first on what appears to be a legitimate complaint and you ask questions later.
Had the prosecutor reacted differently in this case, that is failed to exercise an arrest, they would have immediately released him on bail, they would have been criticised for catering to the rich and powerful.
JANE COWAN: Having been paraded before the media, served almost a week behind bars, and then spent more than a month under house arrest, this could clear the way for Dominique Strauss-Kahn to return to France.
But he still faces a civil lawsuit lodged by the same woman.
And there are other sexual assault charges brought by a young French writer, who alleges Strauss-Kahn tried to rape her in a Paris flat in 2003.Something he denies.
In France, where Dominique Strauss-Kahn is known as the "Great Seducer", the case has stirred frustrations at the US system of justice and uncomfortable questions about social tolerance of womanising men.
There were mixed feelings on news of the latest development.
(French man speaking)
"The affair was complicated from the start," says this man. "The accuser didn't seem very sincere to me, the fact that the charges have been dropped seems logical".
(French woman speaking)
"I think that there are enough elements to think that this man isn't completely innocent," says this woman. "But to drop the charges completely from one day to the next, that doesn't seem to be very just either."
Whatever happens now, it's unclear whether the man once fancied as the next French president will be able to salvage his political fortunes or whether his reputation has been impossibly tarnished.
This is Jane Cowan in Washington for The World Today.