Open Thread: DSK Case Dropped

From CNN:

“The nature and number of the complainant’s falsehoods leave us unable to credit her version of events beyond a reasonable doubt, whatever the truth may be about the encounter between the complainant and the defendant,” the document states. “If we do not believe her beyond a reasonable doubt, we cannot ask a jury to do so.”

Damn. A vote of no confidence by the prosecution.

Time has more:

In court Tuesday morning, Assistant District Attorney Joan Illuzi-Orbon spoke before Judge Obus and explained their reasoning for the motion to dismiss charges. Illuzi-Orbon said that Strauss-Kahns accuser, Nafissatou Diallo, was untruthful with us in virtually every substantive interview in matters of large and small significance. Illuzi-Orbon explained that while the physical and forensic evidence in the case suggests a hurried sexual encounter, it did not answer questions of force or consent. For a jury to believe an assault took place, jurors would have to rely on Diallos credibility. Indeed, the case rises and falls on her testimony, said Illuzi-Orbon in a direct quote from the dismissal motion.

Judge Obus agreed and dismissed the charges, but the legal proceedings had one more act. On Monday, Diallos lawyers filed a motion to appoint a special prosecutor, arguing that Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance, Jr. had not fulfilled his duties. Judge Obus denied that motion, and just hours before the hearing, Diallos lawyers appealed that ruling. When Judge Obus dismissed the charges, he placed a stay on the ruling for 30 days, meaning that the ruling would not go into affect for that time, allowing the appellate court to rule on Diallos appeal. It turns out the court didnt need much time at all. Less than two hours after the hearing ended, the appellate court denied the appeal, leaving Strauss-Kahn free to go.

Outside the courthouse, lawyers for Strauss-Kahn said they were pleased with the decisions. It is impossible to understand the full measure of relief Dominique Strauss-Kahn is feeling, his lawyer Benjamin Brafman said. You can engage in inappropriate behavior perhaps, but that is much different than a crime.

Beyond a reasonable doubt is a really fascinating standard when applied to rape and other sex related crimes.

Amp has an interesting post on this from a few years ago:

There’s another limitation of the criminal justice system for addressing rape: The law requires – and should require – an offender to be proved guilty “beyond a reasonable doubt” before punishing him (or her) for any crime, including rape. This is not something I want to change.

However, a significant number of rapists are friends, boyfriends or spouses of their victims. These rapes often happen without any physical evidence to distinguish rape from consent, leaving the jury (or judge) with the task of deciding guilt or innocence based on the competing words of the accused and the complainant. If a rapist is a convincing liar, then even a very feminist jury may feel that he is not guilty “beyond a reasonable doubt,” and so will not convict.

Also, although the law has to consider rape a bright line – either an act was legally rape, or it wasn’t – in real life rape is better described as a spectrum.

This dynamic leads to a somewhat problematic gap in terms of prosecuting sex crimes. The language chosen was carefully stated – the prosecutors didn’t say Strauss-Kahn was innocent of the charges. They said they didn’t feel her testimony would convince a jury. And there is a huge gap between those two statements, just like there is a huge gap between being “innocent” of charges and a “not guilty” verdict.

Strauss-Kahn better thank his lucky stars. Had Diallo’s background not been questionable, he’d be on his way to trial right now. And considering everything that came out about his reputation, his next “inappropriate” incident could catch him on the wrong side of the “reasonable doubt” standard – even if he’s innocent.

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  • ChiliZane

    “Had Diallo’s background not been questionable, then he might have been
    less likely to target her. Predators of all stripes find it easier to
    victimize sex workers because of this. Therefore I don’t see it as his
    lucky stars, but his (conscious or not) choice of less-credible victim.”

    I’m struggling to understand this. Is the idea that he somehow magically and instantly intuited that the hotel maid in his room had a questionable background and was less-than-credible the second he met her? And then decided to (allegedly) attack based on that?

    The logic there seems twisted in a way I can’t wrap my mind around. I’m not saying he didn’t attack her, just that I don’t understand how assigning him magical abilities of intuition is supposed to help future victims of rape. I mean, am I now in addition to “not dressing sexy” and “not asking for it” also supposed to “not somehow project that I have a questionable background” as well?

  • Anonymous

    @BHuesca and @5480d6044cec3d0588cbfa438a569d4c:disqus –See, this is getting into the tricky (dare I say slippery slope?) of saying that a rape (or any other sexual violence) victim needs to be “perfect” in order to be believed.  Of course, that begs the question of what constitutes the “perfect” victim. And if a person doesn’t fit that profile, then should that person forego seeking any justice because zie doesn’t fit the profile and, therefore, wouldn’t win? If that’s the case, then…damn, so many of us would fall short. 
    I support Nafissatou Diallo for a really simple reason (*TRIGGER WARNING* about next link): the medical report stated she was raped . Whatever she lied about regarding her past or however or why she decided to pursue her case or whatever would cast her as “imperfect”….damn, someone raped her. She said Dominique Strauss-Kahn did it. And, yes, I believe his sexually violent history with other women should be taken into consideration.

    • Anonymous

      I feel it’s unfair for her to be judged based on her past, especially b/c it involved her immigration to France and reasons for seeking refuge. Maybe the details were a little hyperbolic but that doesn’t make her journey any less urgent. Sometimes people have to really jump through hoops to get help. Like for entering the US in cases of domestic violence you have to prove that you were unable to receive help through your justice system. At least, I think that’s what it is. But in all that waiting the danger could escalate. You may not be alive to escape. So, desperate times.

      She was raped. And you’d be hard-pressed to consider a man like DSK unlikely to have committed an act like that especially since there is physical evidence.

      From what I see a lot of people believe DSK got off b/c of money. Although some people would speak poorly of Nafissatou not too many people view DSK as innocent.

  • Diana

    If you read the 25 page motion in support of the DA’s request to dismiss the case it is obvious why the charges were dropped. Diallo lied about several keys facts including the fact that she claimed to have been raped on a previous ocassion. In addition, she made a number of false statments in front of the Grand Jury while she was under oath. She gave the prosecutors two or three versions of the incident. I understand people want to support rape victims but why is it so hard to believe that this woman is probably lying about being sexually assaulted. I believe the entire case was motived by greed on Diallo’s part. She filed a lawsuit seeking damages before the criminal case had been adjudicated. People want to bring up DSK’s alleged past misconduct with women but choose to ignore Diallo’s repeated lies to the authorities.

    • Eva

      Why would a woman want to put herself through the trauma of a rape trial if she wasn’t assaulted.  Why not just sue him and not press criminal charges?  No sane woman would ever lie about being raped.  So are you saying that Diallo is insane?  There are easier ways to get money from dirty old men than accusing them of rape.

  • Anonymous

    Maybe I’m waaaaay to close to this case–having a running petition about New York Post saying she did sex work, which the Washington Post found to be false, as well as having had to speak about this at a press conference this past Monday–but I’m trying to figure out what Diallo needed/needs to do or be to be considered “more credible” or “not as questionable” in commenters’ minds…

    • BHuesca

      Not lie, convincingly, about a prior rape, and about many other things? (Which DID happen – she was raped in Guinea-  but not at all in the way she described it to the prosecution originally.) 

  • Livygg

    Had Diallo’s background not been questionable, then he might have been less likely to target her. Predators of all stripes find it easier to victimize sex workers because of this. Therefore I don’t see it as his lucky stars, but his (conscious or not) choice of less-credible victim.

  • Eva

    They should have had the trial anyway?  You know why?  Because with all the publicity about 28282882 women would have come forward saying he did the same thing to them; even if Strauss-Kahn got off (excuse the expression) he would have been so embarrassed he would have ended up hiding under a rock for the rest of his life, or committing suicide.