How the DSK Case Unraveled

Article excerpt

Byline: Christopher Dickey And John Solomon

The prosecutors saw the maid's story falling apart. But does that mean wStrauss-Kahn was innocent?

Raised voices reverberated THROUGH the Manhattan district attorney's office. For two straight days in early June, prosecutors had been interviewing Nafissatou Diallo, the hotel chambermaid who claimed Dominique Strauss-Kahn had tried to rape her and forced her to perform oral sex. But interviewing was no longer quite the word. Grilling would be a better fit. The two lead prosecutors were women, and earlier they had been moved to tears by Diallo's story of the alleged assault by the powerful head of the International Monetary Fund and tales of her suffering in Africa. Now she'd admitted to so many lies about her past that her case might be unwinnable.

When Diallo's lawyer, who was out of town, got wind of the crisis in the D.A.'s office, he went on the offensive. Kenneth Thompson, the son of a woman cop and himself a former prosecutor, began an extraordinary campaign to discredit District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. and his assistants. Among his strategies: making Diallo's identity public by allowing her to give exclusive interviews to Newsweek and ABC News.

Suddenly, as the attorneys who were supposed to be protecting the alleged victim's interests fought rhetorical battles against each other in letters, in legal memos, and on the courthouse steps, Strauss-Kahn and his team found themselves in the enviable position of spectators to the self-destruction of the criminal case against him. Last week, 100 days after DSK's arrest, he walked out of court a free man, with all the charges dropped.

So, is Strauss-Kahn "innocent"? One would be hard-pressed to use that word. It's rare in sex-crime cases that so much physical evidence backs up a victim's account. "The fact of a sexual encounter was and is corroborated by forensic evidence, and the very brief time period inside the hotel suite strongly suggested something other than a consensual act," as Assistant District Attorney Joan Illuzzi-Orbon told the court in July. …