Strauss-Kahn v Diallo

Local politics dragged out case, but DA will throw in towel

The extensions to the containment of Dominique Strauss-Kahn in New York, initially thought by some to be an attempt to follow up conspiracy theories relating to the case, in fact disguised frantic attempts by the NYPD and the DA’s office to build a stronger case against the former IMF boss, The Slog has learned. But the attempt has gone nowhere, say sources close to events….and despite the political difficulties this will give DA Cyrus T. Vance, it is understood that he will now move to dismiss the charges against DSK.

From the start of the DSK saga earlier this year, The Slog has argued that New York’s own peculiar brand of PC – and the political ambitions of District Attorney Cyrus Vance – would have an inappropriate effect on the case. In fact, domestic politics among New York’s local feminist and ethnic activists have driven almost everything: the extension of enquiries, and now, the pressure on Vance to go ahead with at least some charges against one-time IMF Boss Dominique Strauss-Kahn.

But The Slog has been told from authoritative sources that, when the pre-trial Court session finally takes place next Tuesday 23rd August, the DA will move to have the case dismissed.

This is despite the fact that, once again last Tuesday, accuser Nafissatou Diallo’s legal team played fast and loose with evidence they had in their possession, in another attempt to discredit the Frenchman. They released a New York hospital report from May 14th stating that Diallo’s genital injuries were indicative of rape. The magazine carrying the story – French title L’Express – seized on the use of the word ‘rape’ in the medical conclusions, but it seems that this was at least partly based on the account given to doctors at the hospital by the notoriously unreliable Sofitel maid.(Although it still strikes me as odd that her word alone would account for the word being on a medical report).

Yesterday there were sourced reports in the American press that Nafissatou’s lawyer Kenneth S. Thompson had offered DSK a deal whereby they would drop all charges civil or otherwise in return for a lump sum. Thompson flatly denies this, but either way it had an air of desperation about it: I understand that last Thursday DA Vance met with close colleagues and advisors, and the general feeling was that to prolong the agony wasn’t going to do either him or the City any good.

“The Vance team don’t seriously expect the case is a make or break for their man,” said the source mentioned above, “but they figure the quicker it’s buried, the better. More to the point, they don’t trust the maid, and they don’t think they can get a clean win. And if they lose it after a long battle….well, it won’t play well”.

Support for the source’s story comes in the shape of planned protests for next Tuesday. Diallo’s lead attorney Kenneth S. Thompson and local feminist Democrat Councillor Letitia James both plan rallies and press conferences during Monday and Tuesday next to increase the pressure on the District Attorney. Said another well-placed New Yorker, “I guess they know the way the wind’s blowing and are looking to turn this into a cause celebre. But for me, Vance can argue pretty credibly that he went the extra mile. DAs don’t lose elections because they did their job.”

Crediting Cyrus T. Vance with ‘doing his job’ is a generous judgement: both his office and the NYPD clearly saw the opportunity early on to bag a major scalp in DSK. Dismissing the case could reinforce the belief among minority communities that they do not get justice from law enforcement, but black opinion leaders generally have expressed support for the District Attorney: he has worked very hard over many years to build real links with ethnic communities in the City. When he does finally announce his decision this coming week, those efforts should stand him in good stead.