The title of this post is a hat tip to bbell over at MM who blogged about this subject . bbell wrote his post at the time when Dominique Strauss-Kahn (“DSK”) the then powerful head of the International Monetary Fund (“IMF”), and putative front-runner in the race for president of France, was arrested for sexually assaulting the maid in his New York hotel room.
Today, the charges against DSK were dismissed by the court at the request of the prosecutor who refused to bring the charges to the jury because of evidence that the maid had lied in the past about the facts of her immigration, her background and the facts of her case. How and why the victim was found to be lying about so many things is not clear, because we don’t have access to all the interview transcripts and probably never will, but on this subject, the prosecutor has said:
We’ll have to take the prosecutor’s word for that, because despite this statement, the victim in this case was exceptional (in the prosecutor’s view) in this regard:
“In virtually every substantive interview
with prosecutors, despite entreaties to simply be
truthful, she has not been truthful, on matters great and small, many pertaining
to her background and some relating to the circumstances of the incident
In addition to this credibility problem, or more accurately exacerbating that problem, the prosecutors found themselves with a lack of corroborating evidence. There were no witnesses to the alleged crime (no surprise, given that the attack occurred in a hotel suite, and mostly in the bathroom of that suite) and the medical evidence, while conclusively showing that sexual contact occurred, did not conclusively demonstrate force.
That’s all very bad luck for the victim. Most rape and sexual assault cases live and die on medical evidence and corroborating testimony. The he said/she said is often a stand-off and the relative credibility of the witnesses is important to determine who is telling the truth about what happened. In this case, no one will ever have the chance to weigh the credibility of the victim against the credibility of DSK, because the prosector felt that he could not take the case to the jury and ask them to believe the victim, because the victim’s previous false statements made that impossible. I can’t say if I agree with that determination, because I don’t know everything that the prosecutor knows but I think it’s worth asking this question:
Would the prosecutor have made the same decision if the roles were reversed?
In other words, if the victim were a wealthy and powerful white woman and the accused were a working-class black man, would the prosecutor still have found the same credibility problems if the victim had made the same statements?
I hope that question was seriously asked and carefully answered. And I hope the answer was an honest yes. If not, we have a serious problem.
No matter what the answer to that question might be though, DSK should consider himself the luckiest defendant alive and should keep his mouth shut as he slinks back to France. Any negative or arrogant statements directed toward the victim, the police, the prosecutor or the American justice system should earn him nothing but contempt.
In other words, simply because the American justice system can’t prove a crime ocurred in this case, doesn’t mean the victim isn’t telling the truth. After reading about the case, and considering the backgrounds of both the victim and the accused, I think it’s safe to say this is not a man who should be trusted alone in a room with any woman ever. Unless that woman is armed.