Tag Archives: Nafissatou Diallo

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.

Announcements! NewU Start Up Funding; NY Rally in Support of Diallo

NewU Diversity in Media Start Up Camp!

We are looking for talented media entrepreneurs to participate in a start-up camp and pitch slam! The benefit: Four people will walk away with $10,000 for their idea – and did I mention, it’s going to be in Vegas? The catch: You have to be a member of one of the UNITY organizations.(But there’s still time to pitch and join!)

The New U: News Entrepreneurs Working Through UNITY is a competitive program for journalists of color who want to become entrepreneurs. It supports and helps grow the creative ideas of participants through a national “startup camp”. In addition to offering a unique formula based in training and one-on-one mentoring, the program includes a competition for start-up funding to assist media entrepreneurs in realizing their ideas.

Since its inception in 2010, a total of 16 fellows, members of AAJA, NABJ, NAHJ and NAJA, have learned about entrepreneurship and had an opportunity to pitch their ideas to a carefully-selected group of mentors, panelists and guest financial experts. In fall 2010, the participants’ video pitches were voted on by their industry peers, and 4 of the 16 participants– one from each of UNITY’s alliance partner organizations – each won $5,000 in seed money to further their entrepreneurial ideas.

In 2011, The New U project will offer one group training start-up camp for 20 selected fellows in Las Vegas that will convene October 17-19 of 2011. New U’s leadership team and returning mentors remain committed to its mission of increasing the number of innovative thinkers and product developers who are of color, providing them with a forum in which to develop and express innovative ideas. Participants’ travel expenses are covered through the grant, as is the cost of the program, and award grants for 2011 will increase to $10,000 per winner, of which there will be four.

Go here to review application process and apply for the 2011 New U Fellowship.

Deadline is NEXT WEEK: August 26th. So apply. Even if you just have an idea, looking at the form will help you flesh it out – and it may be a stronger idea than you think!

Also, some disclosures: Doug is a good friend of mine, and I am also participating in this camp as a presenter. (The panel I will present to the fellows has a working title of “Things I Wish I Had Known Before Trying to Launch a Business.”)

New York Council Member Letitia James is looking for protestors and speakers for a rally in support of Nafissatou Diallo.

Elected Officials and Women’s Advocacy Organizations Hold Press Conference In Support Of Nafissatou Diallo

Request Continuation of Manhattan Criminal Case; Demand Public Scrutiny of Victim Cease

New York, NY— On May 14, 2011, former IMF head Dominique Strauss-Kahn was arrested and charged with the sexual assault of 32-year-old Nafissatou Diallo, a Guinean housekeeper at the Sofitel New York Hotel in New York City.

By May 19, Mr. Strauss-Kahn was indicted by a Manhattan grand jury on seven criminal counts, two of which are first-degree criminal sexual acts. His bail was set at $1M, with additional 24-hour home detention and an electronic monitoring ankle bracelet. After Mr. Strauss-Kahn turned over his passport and posted an additional $5M bail bond, he was placed under house arrest in Manhattan. On July 1, a special hearing was called in which Manhattan District Attorney prosecutors cited credibility issues in regards to Ms. Diallo’s background, and released Ms. Strauss-Kahn on his own recognizance. He was arraigned on June 6, and pleaded not guilty to the charges against him.

As these events have unfolded, media outlets have used alleged sources from the Manhattan DA’s office to imply that the criminal case against Mr. Strauss-Kahn was unstable. These same alleged sources have been used to paint Ms. Diallo as a prostitute and a con artist, as well as accuse her of lying in her application for asylum in the United States, and for describing a false gang rape in Guinea.

Following Ms. Diallo’s accusations against Mr. Strauss-Kahn, a French writer also filed rape charges accusing Mr. Strauss-Kahn. In fact, the writer’s mother, who previously had a consensual relationship with Mr. Strauss-Kahn, described him as “a predator who isn’t looking to please, but to take.” A French newspaper later published claims that Mr. Strauss-Kahn harassed female flight attendants of Air France to such a degree that the airline instituted a policy of placing male attendants on his flights.

Public scrutiny of women who accuse men of rape is itself a manifestation of misogyny. In this particular case, the fact that the accused is wealthy, politically connected, and white; while the accuser is poor, non-white, and immigrant suggests that there are other social factors at play. The public “leaking” of confidential information regarding the criminal case (if these alleged sources are legitimate) directly interferes with the ongoing criminal case, and is unfair to all involved.

GOALS– Urge the Manhattan DA to look at the facts of the case, as well as the Mr. Strauss-Kahn’s history of conduct. Cease leaking of information pertaining to the case. Take into STRONG consideration Ms. Diallo’s medical report which includes testimony consistent with what the accuser told police, and which lists the cause of injuries as “rape”.

On August 16, medical reports which are consistent with Ms. Diallo’s testimony to police, and which lists the cause of injury as “rape”, were leaked. Mr. Strauss-Kahn’s attorneys allege that the report is “misleading and deceitful”.

WHEN: August 18, 2011

5:00PM- 7:00PM

WHERE: the steps of City Hall

Interested? Contact (212) 788-7081.

Nafissatou Diallo, Dominique Strauss Kahn, Race, Immigration, and Power

Newsweek DSK Maid CoverI haven’t had much time to write this week, but I wanted to quickly take a look at the unfolding DSK sexual assault case.

The framing of cases is so important, as it shifts judgements in the court of public opinion. Since Diallo has chosen to step forward as the accuser (perhaps in response to the media backlash around her life and reputation), news outlets have clamored to get the scoop. Newsweek published an exclusive interview a few days ago, with some telling language:

“Nafi” Diallo is not glamorous. Her light-brown skin is pitted with what look like faint acne scars, and her dark hair is hennaed, straightened, and worn flat to her head, but she has a womanly, statuesque figure. When her face is in repose, there is an opaque melancholy to it. Working at the Sofitel for the last three years, with its security and stability, was clearly the best job she’d ever hoped to have, after years braiding hair and working in a friend’s store in the Bronx as a newcomer from Guinea in 2003.

Only in cases involving rape or assault is how the victim appears a subject for commentary. This is part of rape culture, the idea that we have to evaluate the attractiveness of a person alleging assault along with the other facts in the case. Melissa McEwan so succinctly put it, rape is not a compliment. Neither is sexual assault. Yet time and time again, we see people accused of sexual assault, abuse, or rape try to weasel out of it by saying that they weren’t attracted to the person in the first place. (We see you, Albert Haynesworth.) It’s disturbing to see reporters play into the same idea. This is why feminists continually stress that rape is a crime of power, not desire. Rape is not related to the attractiveness of the victim. Rape occurs because one party does not consent to a sexual encounter, but they are forced into it anyway.

Also, that first discussion of “clearly the best job she’d ever hoped to have?” It sets the stage for more prejudical plays on class, race, and immigration status later in the piece. Continue reading