Strauss-Kahn Released Without Bail
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Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the former head of the International Monetary Fund, has been released from house arrest. A judge made that decision after prosecutors disclosed substantial concerns about the credibility of their leading witness in the case against him. She is the hotel worker who has accused Strauss-Kahn of sexual assault. We should warn that the story contains some graphic details.
Ailsa Chang of member station WNYC was in the courtroom today.
AILSA CHANG: Gone are all the extraordinary bail conditions that had formerly kept Strauss-Kahn holed up 24/7 in a three-story townhouse in Tribeca, where he's been guarded by a security team that was personally costing him $250,000 a month. His $1 million bail and $5 million bond will be returned. Now, Strauss-Kahn is free to roam wherever he likes within the United States.
Outside the courthouse, his defense lawyer, William Taylor, treated the hearing as one major step that will lead in inexorably to a full dismissal of all the charges against his client.
Mr. WILLIAM TAYLOR (Lawyer): I want to remind everybody that it was just six weeks ago that Dominique Strauss-Kahn was in Rikers Island and was charged in an indictment that had the full force of the people behind it.
CHANG: In past statements, prosecutors claimed the alleged victim had a compelling and unwavering story. Now, Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance says his office had to backpedal when it found out the alleged victim lied to investigators.
Mr. CY VANCE (District Attorney, New York City): As prosecutors, our duty is to do what is right in every case without fear or favor wherever that leads. The disclosures we made that led to today's proceedings reflect that principle.
CHANG: In a letter sent to the judge today, prosecutors said the housekeeper admitted she lied on income tax returns and on her application for asylum when she claimed to have been a victim of gang rape in her native Guinea.
Prosecutors say she also lied about what she did right after the alleged attack. Originally, she told investigators she reported it immediately. Now, she says she actually popped into a nearby room, cleaned it, and then returned to Strauss-Kahn's suite to finish cleaning up in there before reporting the attack.
Prosecutors accused Strauss-Kahn of trying to rape the housekeeper then forcing her to perform oral sex on him. It's a case with no actual witnesses, so a lot will hinge on the credibility of Strauss-Kahn and the housekeeper.
Authorities claim they found Strauss-Kahn's DNA on the woman's uniform, but defense lawyers have suggested any sexual encounter between them was consensual. The woman's lawyer, Ken Thompson, says there's evidence she sustained injuries after Strauss-Kahn allegedly grabbed her breasts and threw her to the floor.
Mr. KEN THOMPSON (Lawyer): When she went to the hospital later that day, the nurses who examined her saw the bruises on her vagina that were caused by Dominique Strauss's hand.
CHANG: And Thompson said Strauss-Kahn ripped the housekeeper's stockings. She then ran to the door, he said, and spit the semen inside her mouth on the hotel room walls. Thompson accused prosecutors of leaking information to the media to discredit his client. Even if she was untruthful in some instances, he says the physical evidence can't possibly support a consensual sexual encounter.
Mr. THOMPSON: It is a fact that the victim here made some mistakes, but that doesn't mean she's not a rape victim.
CHANG: Prosecutors say they're not dismissing the case just yet, and that a full investigation will continue.
For NPR News, I'm Ailsa Chang in New York.
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