Dominique Strauss-Kahn: The Other Shoe Drops

I've been waiting all day to learn the story behind the phone call with the incarcerated boyfriend of Dominique Strauss-Kahn's accuser, and here it is.

He was in an immigration jail in Arizona, the call was recorded, it took place 28 hours after she claimed to be raped, and the DA's office finally got around to having it translated from a dialect of Fulani to English. The money quote:

When the conversation was translated — a job completed only this Wednesday — investigators were alarmed: “She says words to the effect of, ‘Don’t worry, this guy has a lot of money. I know what I’m doing,’ ” the official said.

This case is toast. It's not illegal to have sex with a hotel maid. The only remaining viable theories are: (1) It was a set-up (2) He paid her for the sex or (3) She consented, thinking she was going to paid, and got angry when he didn't offer money, didn't pay enough or refused to pay. While normally, paying for sex would be a crime, in this case, just like the rape claim, if he denied it, proving it would require believing her, and that's out of the question now. [More...]

The future: Dominique Strauss-Kahn will walk free and be hailed in France as a victim of an unfair American justice system that relies on outrageous perp walks and the sensationalized saturation of public opinion by American media, which views every case through guilt-colored lenses. Every defense attorney in the country will now bring up the DSK debacle in voir dire and closing when trying a he-said/she-said sex assault case. The accuser will return to Guinea to avoid criminal charges of lying to the grand jury and obstructing justice. And Cyrus Vance and his sex crimes unit will never live this one down.

What a great story for Independence Day weekend.

< DA's Letter Lists Accuser's Lies in Dominique Strauss-Kahn Case | Dominque Strauss-Kahn's Accuser: A "Working Girl"? >
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    For me, (5.00 / 1) (#2)
    by Makarov on Fri Jul 01, 2011 at 10:53:38 PM EST
    this case cemented the argument I've seen from Jeralyn many times before - identity shield laws in sex crimes should apply equally to defendants and accusers.

    thanks for reminding me (none / 0) (#4)
    by Jeralyn on Fri Jul 01, 2011 at 10:59:55 PM EST
    of that argument, it is one of my major pet peeves that the media names the accused but not the accuser  in alleged sex assault cases. As pertains to DSK's accuser,  I blasted the policy here.

    and yet, this has nothing whatever to do (none / 0) (#15)
    by cpinva on Sat Jul 02, 2011 at 07:30:56 AM EST
    with the prosecution or the police. yes, is this true, it would seem to potentially put a crimp on this case. one problem: as you noted, there are multiple potential inferences to be drawn from this conversation (assuming it was even translated correctly), which still might have the effect of keeping DSK on the hook civily. the accuser's attorney held a press conference yesterday, asserting that medical evidence proves that the sex was non-consensual; she suffered vaginal bruising. not from forced intercourse, but from being grabbed there by the accused, during the course of the non-consensual oral sex. he claims that there is pictorial evidence, taken by the medical personel conducting the rape exam.

    either her attorney is the biggest doofus in the legal world, and should face (at least) sanctions, or there's still more to this story that has yet to come out.

    curiouser and curiouser.


    Odd statement (none / 0) (#30)
    by sj on Sat Jul 02, 2011 at 02:40:31 PM EST
    (assuming it was even translated correctly)

    Are you doubting that it was?  If so, on what basis, or do you doubt all translations?  


    Since the accuser is now effectively (5.00 / 4) (#6)
    by gyrfalcon on Sat Jul 02, 2011 at 12:37:02 AM EST
    the defendant (in the court of public opinion and on this blog), I hope it will not be out of line for me to offer these thoughts here.

    First, I'd like something a little better than "words to the effect of" from an anonymous source, and certainly a larger context of what was said before deciding the phone call is evidence of a false accusation made in hopes of financial reward.  Wouldn't you?

    Secondly, the fact that it occurs to the victim of an assault by a rich guy that she might ultimately get some money out of the situation is not evidence of a false charge.

    Third, she'd already gone to police, and reportedly has physical injuries consistent with her story, which means that the criminal process is under way and can be continued without her cooperation, which is not the way you go about extracting money from somebody with a false accusation, even if you're really, really stupid.

    Lastly, the DA quite pointedly did not drop this case-- at least not yet.  They, who do have access to the full telephone conversation in question and the physical evidence, apparently continue to believe an assault took place.  They just recognize that the alleged victim's testimony very well could be impeached in the eyes of a jury, as it apparently has been here on TL.

    Let's be careful about a reverse rush to judgment here.

    so far... (5.00 / 2) (#8)
    by markw on Sat Jul 02, 2011 at 12:57:24 AM EST
    So far virtually everything first reported by anonymous sources in the New York Times, no matter how outrageous sounding, has subsequently been publicly confirmed by prosecutors.  I have no reason to doubt this quote.  I assume that "words to the effect of" simply refers to the fact that she wasn't speaking English so it can't be a direct quote.

    As to your second point, it needs to be taken in context with everything else.  The woman is a professional scammer and criminal liar.  If somebody who admittedly made up a prior rape allegation for material gain (getting political asylum) is caught ont he phone talking about what benefit they can get from another rape accusation, that pretty much ends that persons' credibility.

    Your third point I don't understand and your fourth point?  So what. Semen and bruises are not proof of rape, and can be easily explained in lots of other ways (e.g., rough sex, or non-rough consensual sex combined with self-inflicted injury or prior injury).  There chances of a conviction are virtually zero.  The longer the DA's office drags this out the worse they will look.  


    Good comment, Mark (none / 0) (#10)
    by Jeralyn on Sat Jul 02, 2011 at 01:06:04 AM EST
    I was writing mine when you posted yours, and I see we make some of the same points -- and did last night on this topic as well. Glad to have you here!

    Yes, and, (none / 0) (#29)
    by KeysDan on Sat Jul 02, 2011 at 02:21:51 PM EST
    the accuser is not effectively or otherwise the defendant. The defendant is DSK--neither the indictment nor the charges of attempted rape and sexual abuse have been dismissed. The issue is the reliability and credibility of the accuser and it is the prosecution that has provided the information that shakes both. The criminal charges against DSK are very serious with substantial jail time consequences, as such charges, if proved, should be.  If DSK is found guilty he goes to jail for a long time.  If DSK is found not guilty, the accuser may or may not face any charges (perjury is not the easiest charge to prove).  The criminal justice system needs to do its best to get it right.

    the information comes from the DA's office (none / 0) (#9)
    by Jeralyn on Sat Jul 02, 2011 at 01:02:30 AM EST
    and the Times recounts the verification for law enforcement sources.

    Her bruising was not inconsistent with consensual sex.

    The issue is whether the state can prove the case, and given the state's acknowledgment to the court of her repeated lies, by filing the letter it wrote the defense, they cannot. They know it.

    The District Attorney wrote in a letter the accused lied to the grand jury about the encounter and admitted her lie to them. What more do you need?

    Even if she was telling the truth that she did not consent, it doesn't matter now. She's not believable, given her lie to the grand jury and fabrication of a prior gang rape.

    They will dismiss the charges before his next court date of July 18. They may be waiting as they make a decision on whether to charge the accuser with perjury, and to announce both on the same day. It's probably not an easy decision because they will be concerned that a decision to charge her may deter rape victims in the future from coming forward. On the other hand, she deserves to be treated the same as anyone else who admits lying to the grand jury. A man was indicted, lost his job and lost his shot at becoming President of France and is out more than a million dollars in legal fees, house rentals and security expenses due to his excessive bond.

    Prosecutors have a duty not to bring cases if they have a good faith belief the charges cannot be proven beyond a reasonable doubt. This case is beyond repair.

    The DA's office is to blame for rushing this case to Indictment hoping DSK would be denied bond. They should have waited and conducted a thorough investigation and gotten a sealed indictment they could have arrested him on during his next trip to NY.

    I have no sympathy for this accuser, who still gets to bask in anonymity, given the District Attorney's confirmation to the court she's a repeated liar.


    Yup (none / 0) (#12)
    by AngryBlackGuy on Sat Jul 02, 2011 at 02:05:57 AM EST

    Is it normal for the state to disclose (none / 0) (#27)
    by Anne on Sat Jul 02, 2011 at 10:09:29 AM EST
    to the defense what the accuser says in grand jury proceedings and to make a judgment whether her testimony was true or false?

    Or, is this part of the state's requirement to disclose exculpatory information?

    One part of your post really troubles me:

    Even if she was telling the truth that she did not consent, it doesn't matter now.

    One thing's for sure: not the finest hour for the American justice system.  You have two non-Americans here: one, who fled her native country with the belief that one trusts the authorities at one's peril, and one who comes from power and privilege, with a history of forcing his attentions on women.

    I don't think we will ever know what really happened, but speaking only for myself, I don't think there's any feeling of triumph here, or even justice, particularly.

    Consent always matters; all DSK has learned, if he did what he was accused of, is that America is one more country where, if you pick your victims carefully, you can always get away with it.


    it is not only normal (none / 0) (#28)
    by Jeralyn on Sat Jul 02, 2011 at 11:54:33 AM EST
    It is obligatory to inform the defense. It's Brady (exculpatory)and Giglio (impeaching) material of their star witness. The DA wrote in his letter the accuser admitted to them that she lied to the grand jury -- he's not judging her testimony, he's stating the fact that she admitted lying about details of the incident.

    Whether he assaulted her or it was consensual will no longer be the concern of the legal system if charges are dismissed due to the accuser's credibility issues. (Unless one or the other files a civil suit.) Obviously, it's a concern to some members of the public, and they will continue to debate it. I won't. My interest is in the legal aspect of the case, not the societal or the political.


    I don't think we're ever going to actually know (none / 0) (#19)
    by andgarden on Sat Jul 02, 2011 at 08:01:17 AM EST
    the full story about what happened in that hotel room.

    Suddenly... (5.00 / 2) (#11)
    by Mr Natural on Sat Jul 02, 2011 at 01:31:34 AM EST
    ... celebrating the surveillance state?

    What are you talking about? (none / 0) (#31)
    by Romberry on Sat Jul 02, 2011 at 08:46:41 PM EST
    I assume your "surveillance state" dig is aimed at the recorded prison phone call. If that's correct, I think your dig is misplaced. Telephone calls of prison inmates are routinely monitored and there is nothing new about that. The reason calls are monitored is to prevent inmates from conducting/coordinating criminal activity outside of prison from behind bars. (That's also part of the reason inmates are prohibited from having cell phones.)

    All I can say is... (5.00 / 1) (#17)
    by Dr Molly on Sat Jul 02, 2011 at 07:47:50 AM EST
    I honestly do not understand the philosophy behind the practice of law!

    Not the first time I've thought that while reading the always interesting legal posts on this site.

    feel no sympathy for the accuser (5.00 / 1) (#21)
    by desmoinesdem on Sat Jul 02, 2011 at 08:27:13 AM EST
    but doesn't she have a teenage son or daughter? That kid is facing some very tough times.

    It makes me sick to think that next time a hotel maid really is assaulted, she will probably be afraid to come forward, and if she does come forward, most people won't believe her.

    It is hard for me to have too much sympathy for DSK, sorry. The damage to his reputation would have been a lot less if a dozen women had come forward to say, "In all the time I've known/worked with DSK he has always treated women with respect. I find this charge difficult to believe."

    Whose fault is it that a French journalist had to be talked out of pressing charges against him, or that the IMF had to be warned in writing about how shabbily he treated women in the workplace? Not excusing the false accusation, just saying that DSK's behavior over many years magnified the harm done to his reputation.

    Bayesian inference (5.00 / 1) (#24)
    by markw on Sat Jul 02, 2011 at 09:14:20 AM EST
    A comment I have heard some on this site (and more frequently elsewhere) is that whatever lies the accuser may have told in the past bear no relationship to what happened in the room with DSK.  Of course everyone recognizes that such lies make the case harder to prove, but some people believe that they are completed unrelated to what took place in the room.

    In fact, though, since we don't know exactly what took place, we necessarily develop probabilistic understandings based on all the evidence we have, and those probabilistic understandings need adjustment with new information. The technical term for this is Bayesian inference.

    Explained in simple terms in relationship to this case, yes, people are right, the fact that she talked about making money from this, combined with all the lies she told, do not disprove she was raped, but they do make it a heck of a lot less likely, simply because these facts make it more likely that she is just claiming she was raped for her own advantage.  Her lies about previous events, such as asylum, are thus not disconnected from this event but are highly connected to any reasonable interpretation of it.

    Always amazing to wath how things can change, (none / 0) (#1)
    by christinep on Fri Jul 01, 2011 at 10:53:30 PM EST
    how perceptions can alter, isn't it?  (On this one, I admit to being far off the mark...as we see it today.)  If it continues to unfold as it now has, who knows: He may be the next President of France!

    Pretty well damns the case (none / 0) (#3)
    by Romberry on Fri Jul 01, 2011 at 10:56:31 PM EST
    Reading quotes like "Don't worry, this guy has a lot of money. I know what I'm doing" sure as heck gives rise to at least reasonable doubt where DSK's guilt on these charges is concerned. In fact, it would tend to give rise to suspicion that DSK was a target of a false accusation in the hopes of extorting (or otherwise settling) for a substantial sum.

    Across multiple forums and multiple years I have seen the assertion that when it comes to rape, women don't lie. Yet that assertion flies in the face of the facts concerning the percentage of rape accusations which are ultimately dismissed as unfounded. Women are human, and given the right (or perhaps wrong) motivation, humans can and do often lie.

    I don't know for sure what the truth is in this particular case, but unless the prosecution can produce ironclad evidence of an actual forcible rape (as opposed to merely DNA evidence of a sexual encounter), given what has come out in the last day, if I were a juror in this case I suspect I would have a hard time returning a verdict of guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

    Ben Stein vs Paul Krugman (none / 0) (#5)
    by Dan the Man on Fri Jul 01, 2011 at 11:13:56 PM EST
    Ben Stein: "People accuse other people of crimes all of the time. [...] How do we know that this woman's word was good enough to put Mr. Strauss-Kahn straight into a horrific jail? Putting a man in Riker's is serious business. Maybe more than a few minutes of investigation is merited before it's done. [...] In this country, we have the presumption of innocence for the accused. Yet there's my old pal from the Ron Ziegler/ Richard Nixon days, Diane Sawyer, anchor of the ABC Nightly News, assuming that Mr. Strauss-Kahn is guilty."

    Paul Krugman: "But it turns out that theres a kind of class loyalty that trumps even politics: the powerful must be protected. Only the little people get charged with rape."

    Both are right, and both are wrong... (5.00 / 4) (#25)
    by Addison on Sat Jul 02, 2011 at 09:38:37 AM EST
    ...Ben Stein is not out there defending the "unmerited" throwing into Riker's of poor people who aren't his friends, and as it turns out Krugman was wrong (sort of) in that it's not only little people who are FALSELY charged with rape. Frankly, of the two, Krugman's point holds up more often than Stein's hypocritical and unique judgment on this one criminal case.

    comment reprinting an article (none / 0) (#7)
    by Jeralyn on Sat Jul 02, 2011 at 12:46:29 AM EST
    from another source deleted. You may link and quote a short paragraph or two, no more.  This space is for comments not republishing the works of others. Thanks.

    BTW, I'd like to thank you for this site (none / 0) (#14)
    by Mr Natural on Sat Jul 02, 2011 at 07:22:29 AM EST
    This is my first stop when I need to read about the day's legal issues.

    In a world abounding with the with prolix and ponderous prattling of internet lawyers, it is nice to have the perspective of real attorneys.

    out of curiousity jeralyn, let me pose a (none / 0) (#16)
    by cpinva on Sat Jul 02, 2011 at 07:39:16 AM EST
    hypothetical, and get your response:

    a woman attempts to gain asylum to the US, claiming (falsely as it turns out) to have been gang-raped by forces of the authorities in her home country. the year is 1939, the woman is a german jew, and the ruling power in her home country is adolph hitler and the NAZI Party.

    fast forward this scenario to practically any country in n. africa, and compare & contrast.

    I think the intuition behind this comment (5.00 / 1) (#20)
    by andgarden on Sat Jul 02, 2011 at 08:03:04 AM EST
    is not quite wrong. As I said yesterday, I am very hesitant to judge people who lie in asylum proceedings.

    the false rape claim (5.00 / 4) (#23)
    by Jeralyn on Sat Jul 02, 2011 at 09:12:35 AM EST
    is a bad analogy. How does it excuse lying to the grand jury about what happened with DSK, and not telling the prosecutors and cops she lied until this past Tuesday -- after her lie contributed to a man being indicted and having the most spectacular international fall from grace in recent memory?

    What about her claim of a different rape? The DA's office says she gave inconsistent versions of that one as well. Why do her family members say she isn't a widow, but divorced her husband after coming to the U.S. with her daughter? What was her excuse for lying about the money transferred into her bank account over a period of two years?

    She's lied about too many things, and one of those lies is central to the case against DSK. She couldn't withstand 10 minutes of cross-examination.

    There seems to be a misperception that the purpose of a trial is to discover the truth. It isn't. A trial is merely a testing of the evidence -- it's only about whether the state can prove a criminal charge with lawfully obtained evidence by proof beyond a reasonable doubt. In this case, because of her multiple lies, including her admitted fabricating of an incident of forcible sex and lying to the grand jury, the chances of the state fulfilling its burden of proof at trial are next to none.


    Let the smear begin: (none / 0) (#18)
    by Mr Natural on Sat Jul 02, 2011 at 07:59:48 AM EST
    From Murdoch's reliably raunchy NY Post:

    "When you're a chambermaid at Local 6, when you first get to the US, you start at the motels at JFK [Airport]. You don't start at the Sofitel," the source said. "There's a whole squad of people who saw her as an earner."


    From the start (none / 0) (#22)
    by loveed on Sat Jul 02, 2011 at 08:31:45 AM EST
    I did not believe this happen as portrayed in the media..If Strauss-Kahn cannot get fair treatment from justice system, heaven help us all.
     The embarrassment to the country will be unbelievable.
     Poor people just go to jail!!!

    Obviously I have no way of knowing (none / 0) (#26)
    by Mr Natural on Sat Jul 02, 2011 at 09:57:18 AM EST
    or even learning what the true underlying facts are but the story about Union Local 6 (of whatever Union controls maid services in New York City) being used to run prostitutes is a helluva twist.

    That a recent immigrant was catapulted over the heads of many more senior union members to service some of the most expensive hotel suites in New York City, where union members would expect and fight for the best tips, tells us something.

    As always, follow the money.