The legal team for Dominique Strauss-Kahn, headed by high-profile defense counsel Ben Brafman, has floated a few trial balloons hinting at a possible defense. At one point they suggested that the former International Monetary Fund director was out to lunch with his daughter when the alleged attack took place. They also suggested an encounter between Strauss-Kahn and the maid might have been consensual. Brafman told reporters last week, "The evidence, we believe, will not be consistent with a forcible encounter." With DNA evidence now apparently linking Strauss-Kahn to the incident, the consent defense seems a lot more likely, but as an Associated Press analysis points out, that can be tricky because it sets up a "he-said, she-said" confrontation.
"They're really difficult cases because, by their very nature, nobody else is there," said Brenda Smith, an American University Washington College of Law professor who has studied sexual violence. Even DNA or other forensic evidence might establish sexual contact but still not prove an attack, "so it really is the credibility of the complainant and the defendant, and also the facts and information that each side can marshal to support their version of what occurred."
The report yesterday that Strauss-Kahn's representatives allegedly tried (unsuccessfully) to pay off the maid's impoverished family in Guinea, to buy her silence, can't reflect well on Strauss-Kahn's credibility. On the other hand, he's got a crack legal team defending him. After all, Brafman was the one who got an acquittal for Sean "P. Diddy" Combs, even after numerous witnesses said he fired a gun in a crowded New York nightclub.
Meanwhile, Strauss-Kahn's new neighbors, on lower Broadway in Manhattan, want the high-profile defendant out of their hood, along with the gaggle of press and gawkers he brings. "I don't care if he's guilty or innocent," Michele Sebago told the New York Daily News. "He's guilty of disrupting my life." Strauss-Kahn is under house arrest while the case proceeds. This photo posted to Twitter by neighbor DeannaBee explains the scene in front of Strauss-Kahn's temporary apartment building better than we can. As you can see, there are giant chicken suits involved now:
Strauss-Kahn is accused of seven criminal counts for allegedly trying to rape a maid on May 14 in the Sofitel hotel in Midtown. He faces up to 25 years in prison if convicted. His next court appearance is an arraignment set for June 6.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.