Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

IN THE PAPERS

'Steely resolve of reporters exploited by pared-down employers'

Read more

BUSINESS DAILY

US judge calls Argentina bond swap offer illegal

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

Cécile Duflot ruffles some feathers

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

Media accused of pro-protester bias in Ferguson

Read more

DEBATE

The Murderous Lure of Jihad: Tackling ISIS and its Worldwide Recruitment (part 2)

Read more

DEBATE

The Murderous Lure of Jihad: Tackling ISIS and its Worldwide Recruitment

Read more

FOCUS

Republicans block Obama's bid to hike minimum wage

Read more

WEB NEWS

Calls for ISIS media blackout after execution of James Foley

Read more

WEB NEWS

Web users divided over Darren Wilson

Read more

  • Fear of Ebola sky-high among Air France workers

    Read more

  • US says Islamic State threat 'beyond anything we've seen'

    Read more

  • Malaysia mourns as remains of MH17 victims arrive home

    Read more

  • Hollande is ‘nobody’s president’ says former French minister

    Read more

  • Reporter’s IS captors taunted family, asked for €100m ransom

    Read more

  • Two US Ebola patients leave hospital ‘virus-free’

    Read more

  • Turkey’s Erdogan names foreign minister Davutoglu as next PM

    Read more

  • US reaches historic $16.7bn settlement with Bank of America

    Read more

  • Special report: Supplying Ukraine’s soldiers on the front line

    Read more

  • Israeli air strike kills three top Hamas commanders

    Read more

  • France delivered arms to Syrian rebels, Hollande confirms

    Read more

  • Tensions high in Yemen as Shiite rebel deadline looms

    Read more

  • Interactive: Relive the Liberation of Paris in WWII

    Read more

  • French village rallies behind besieged elderly British couple

    Read more

  • Former Irish PM Albert Reynolds dies at 81

    Read more

Americas

Strauss-Kahn freed as doubts arise over accuser

Video by Oliver FARRY

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2011-07-04

Former IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn was released from house arrest on Friday after prosecutors acknowledged there were serious doubts about the credibility of the hotel maid who accused him of sexual assault.

REUTERS  - The rapidly dissolving case against former IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn faces challenges fairly common in sexual assault prosecutions, namely a less-than-perfect accuser.

So while Manhattan prosecutors face a more difficult task now that the accuser has been found to have lied on several occasions including about what happened immediately after the purported attack, it is too soon to consider the case closed.

“This would not be the first case where an important prosecution witness turned out not to be the angel or pure victim that the prosecution initially thought. Nor would it be the first case a prosecution’s office took a case to trial where a witness had real credibility issues,” Columbia Law School Professor Daniel Richman said.

Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance admitted a setback with revelations about the accuser’s past.

“She’s already lied under oath in this case. I can’t imagine more of a home run for the defense,” said Gerald Lefcourt, a well-known Manhattan defense attorney.

But tellingly, experts said, prosecutors did not dismiss the case, a strong indication prosecutors believe the hotel maid’s story that Strauss-Kahn attacked her in a luxury suite. Had Vance given up hope, he likely would have folded the case immediately.

There’s no doubt, however, that prosecutors face a much more difficult path to conviction because Strauss-Kahn’s defense lawyers would seize upon the accuser’s past misstatements and try to discredit her before any jury.

“It’s theoretically possible that the case could survive because there’s a long history of sex crimes being prosecuted by imperfect complaining witnesses,” said Paul Callan, a former prosecutor now in private practice.

Crucial to the case would be to present corroborating evidence beyond forensics evidence gathered from the hotel suite and in medical examinations of the accused and accuser.

Defense lawyers could argue any sexual contact was consensual.

If there were witnesses in the hotel who heard the woman scream or testify that she looked distraught after the incident, prosecutors could use that to bolster their case in spite of inconsistencies in the woman’s own story, said Bradley Simon, a defense attorney in Manhattan.

Credibility in doubt

Prosecutors say the woman lied to immigration authorities while seeking U.S. asylum, claiming she had been gang-raped in her native Guinea. The story was fabricated, though the woman said she was raped on another occasion under different circumstances.

Lefcourt called that revelation “absolutely devastating” to the prosecution’s case.

In addition, she changed her story about what happened immediately after the purported attack.

She testified under oath before the grand jury that she had cowered in the hallway outside his room until he left and she felt safe to seek help. Now she admits she cleaned another room and then returned to start cleaning Strauss-Kahn’s suite before reporting the incident.

“Frequently, rape victims don’t report the rape immediately because of shame, humiliation and embarrassment,” Callan said.

Forensic evidence, such as blood in the hotel room, would also independently support the woman’s allegations, Simon said.

“Their task is going to be much harder now. But it’s not insurmountable,” he said.

However, waiting to report the assault makes it appear as if she calculated the possible benefits of lying about a sexual attack before reporting the incident, Lefcourt said.

A defense attorney could also argue that the time she spent in the room after Strauss-Kahn left could have been used to doctor the scene of the alleged assault.

Even without a credible witness, prosecutors could offer a deal to Strauss-Kahn—for instance, dropping the four more serious felony charges against him, which carry up to 25 years’ imprisonment, in return for his pleading guilty to the three lesser misdemeanor charges, which carry at most one year of imprisonment.

But it is highly unlikely that Strauss-Kahn would accept such an offer, said defense attorney Michael Bachrach.

“The defense will probably feel emboldened now more than ever, that this is a case that should be tried and should be defended,” Bachrach said.

Strauss-Kahn has vehemently denied the charges from the start.

“In the end, if the complainant (accuser) has no credibility for a felony, she will have no credibility for a misdemeanor either,” Callan said,

Date created : 2011-07-02

  • STRAUSS-KAHN INQUIRY

    Strauss-Kahn's release as it happened

    Read more

  • JUSTICE

    Strauss-Kahn prosecution enlists French legal help

    Read more

  • USA

    Strauss-Kahn 'claimed immunity' upon arrest

    Read more

COMMENT(S)