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Americas

Strauss-Kahn lawyer hires private investigators

Text by Yann BUXEDA

Latest update : 2011-05-27

Dominique Strauss-Kahn's lawyer has hired a team of private detectives to help build the former IMF boss’s defence case.

Accused last week of attempting to rape a hotel chamber maid in New York, former IMF head Dominique Strauss-Kahn (known as DSK in France) can now rely on Guidepost Solutions detective agency, in addition to his top-flight legal defence team.

According to the New York Times, Guidepost Solutions’ directors include a former head of the criminal division at the New York prosecutor’s office, a former head of security at IT giant IBM and a former federal prosecutor who has worked closely with the US Secret Service.

Finding the slightest fault

These investigators have been hired to uncover any elements that could discredit the alleged victim. In the coming weeks, the detectives will rummage through the young woman’s entire history to find the slightest detail that could

Detectives hired by DSK's lawyers are digging up everything they can about the plaintiff

undermine her case.

Private detective Lawrence Frost told FRANCE 24 the defence team’s questioning of the plaintiff’s credibility as a witness would be relentless.

“Is it true you beat your children? Is it true you stole a loaf of bread? It it true you cheat on your husband?” he said, outlining the kinds of questions the detectives would likely pose. “What you try to establish is that the complainant is capable of lying.”

The victim's dealings with authorities - no matter how inconsequential - will be put under the microscope, said Matthew Galluzzo, a New York defence lawyer with experience of sexual assault cases.

“One thing one might look for is whether she has ever made false complaints in the past,” he said. “Maybe she has claimed she was raped once before and it turned out to not be true and she has a history of making false allegations. That would be helpful.”

DNA and forensics experts

Guidepost Solutions will not limit its activities to looking into the alleged victim’s past. The agency will also go through all the prosecution's material with a fine-tooth comb.

Forensic crime scene reports will be closely scrutinised, and experts will be called upon to give their own conclusions on the evidence and the accuracy of the analyses. Guidepost has a special department with DNA experts.

The agency’s detectives could even ask for access to the hotel suite where the alleged crime was committed.

Different strokes

In France, an investigation is “inquisitional” – an investigating judge weighs the indictment against the defendant following an investigation by the prosecution and defence, then decides whether the case will go to trial.

In the US, the system is “accusatory”. The prosecutor must gather evidence against the defendant in order to build a valid case. It falls entirely on the defence to prove their client’s innocence.

In this context, all the evidence gathered by private detectives won’t necessarily have to be presented to the court.

Strauss-Kahn’s defence lawyer Benjamin Brafman may use elements of the evidence to negotiate a deal with the prosecution outside of court and/or have certain elements removed from the indictment.

But in the US, not everyone has access to such services, due to the prohibitive cost of employing a detective agency. Private detectives cost at least 1,500 dollars a day, and expenses can add up to 700 dollars per hour.

By most estimates, the cost of DSK’s defence is likely to be measured in the hundreds of thousands - if not millions - of dollars.

 

 

Date created : 2011-05-25

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