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Strauss-Khan walks away free in sexual assault case

Strauss-Khan walks away free in sexual assault case

The sexual assault case against former IMF boss, Dominic Strauss-Khan, was dismissed in a NY court. A case that has attracted global attention, and saturated with emotional reactions from around the world. A pair of judges determined that there was reasonable doubt warranting the dismissal of the case, seemingly prone to failure, if the matter was advanced in a criminal court. As earlier projected, the credibility of the accuser couldn’t be trusted, and going ahead with the case would discredit the District Attorney further, if not the Big Apple’s legal system. To prevent a circus and embarrassment to the various parties involved, ending the case seem a plausible thing, if not politically savvy thing to do as the presence of sex, violence, power and politics would all be at play. But the end of round one does not impede round two. Strauss-Khan would most likely be slapped with a civil suit requiring him to pay compensation for pain and suffering, and damage done to Nafissatou Diallo’s reputation.

“Our inability to believe the complainant beyond a reasonable doubt means, in good faith, that we could not ask a jury to do that,” assistant district attorney Joan Illuzzi-Orbon said in formally recommending the case be dismissed. Strauss-Khan appeared resolute in the courtroom, wearing a dark gray suit, blue shirt and striped tie. He smiled and shook hands with his biographer as his wife, journalist Anne Sinclair, sat nearby. The couple left court without speaking to reporters but issued a statement in English afterward.

“These past two and a half months have been a nightmare for me and my family,” he said. “I want to thank all the friends in France and in the United States who have believed in my innocence, and to the thousands of people who sent us their support personally and in writing. I am most deeply grateful to my wife and family who have gone through this ordeal with me. “We will have nothing further to say about this matter and we look forward to returning to our home and resuming something of a more normal life,” he said.

The 33-year-old maid from Guinea, West Africa, Diallo, did not attend the hearing. Her attorney Kenneth Thompson said outside court that she had been abandoned. “No man, no matter how much power, money and influence he has, has a right to sexually assault a woman,” Thompson said. “We are disappointed that District Attorney Vance apparently does not believe in equal justice under the law and has denied an innocent woman a day in court.” Thompson’s partner addressed members of the French media in Paris, expressing similar concern and frustration. Diallo’s lawyers had no other plans to appeal. Illuzzi-Orbon said prosecutors’ decision to drop the case “does not mean that we, in any way, condone the defendant’s behavior.”In Guinea, people identifying themselves as relatives expressed deep disappointment at the prosecutors’ call to drop the case.

“I don’t think my cousin lied. Maybe there is still a chance that they will find a resolution to this problem. You can’t tell Nafissatou Diallo to give up on the criminal case. “Like many sexual assault cases, in which the accused and the accuser are often the only eyewitnesses, the Strauss-Kahn case hinges heavily on the maid’s believability. On the streets of Guinea’s capital, Conakry, and on its airwaves and on the editorial pages of its major newspapers, opinions were mixed. A small and unscientific sample indicated that women tended to back Diallo, while men questioned her version of events.

“Since the beginning of time, the powerful have always won. Nafissatou Diallo didn’t stand a chance against DSK,” said Pepe Bimou, a computer programmer. “The only possible outcome was that she would lose.” Round one of this emotionally draining case is over. Round two offers better prospects for Diallo in a civil court where she might eventually be awarded compensation.

Roland Bankole Marke © 2011

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