Wed, Aug 24, 2011 - Page 7 News List

Lies torpedo case in Strauss-Kahn maid rape scandal

Reuters and AP, NEW YORK and PARIS

The sexual assault case against former IMF managing director Dominique Strauss-Kahn, who hoped to be the next French president, collapsed because what prosecutors believed was strong testimony deteriorated into a fabric of lies.

Manhattan prosecutors, who arrested Strauss-Kahn, 62, on the word of 32-year-old Nafissatou Diallo, said on Monday she told them lie after lie, leading them to urge the judge overseeing the case to dismiss all charges against the former head of the IMF.

“The complainant has been persistently, and at times inexplicably, untruthful in describing matters of both great and small significance,” prosecutors said in a detailed 25-page filing to New York state Supreme Court Judge Michael Obus. “In our repeated interviews with her, the complete truth about the charged incident and her background has, for that reason, remained elusive.”

Strauss-Kahn was seen as a leading contender for the French presidency until his arrest on May 14 on attempted rape and sexual abuse charges, throwing the French political scene into chaos and forcing him to resign from the IMF days later.

On Monday, prosecutors said that because they could not believe beyond a reasonable doubt that the Guinean maid was telling the truth, “we cannot ask a jury to do so.” The document said the sexual encounter at the center of case, which generated lurid headlines on both sides of the Atlantic, likely lasted no more than nine minutes.

In the hours after Strauss-Kahn was first detained, a forensic team and prosecutors established a sexual encounter had indeed taken place, and that it had been very brief, suggesting to investigators that it had not been consensual.

Based on her account of the attack and that “no red flags” in her background had been immediately obvious, prosecutors brought the case to a grand jury to formally indict Strauss-Kahn, the filing said.

However, the case soon fell apart. In one instance, forensics swabs picked up no trace of Diallo’s DNA in a sink where she told prosecutors she had spit after the encounter.

Doctors also concluded that “redness” on Diallo’s genitals could not conclusively be attributed to an attack, as her attorneys have claimed.

France’s Socialists are hailing the move to drop the case.

Socialist Party leader Martine Aubry called it “an immense relief” that the prosecutors asked a judge to put an end to the case based on concerns about the accuser’s credibility.

“We were all waiting for this ... for him to finally be able to get out of this nightmare,” Aubry said on France-Info radio yesterday.

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