The New York Times is reporting tonight that the sexual assault case against former IMF head Dominique Strauss-Kahn is 'on the verge of collapse' and that investigators have uncovered "major holes in the credibility" of his accuser and plan to tell the State Supreme Court tomorrow that they "have problems" with their case.
The Times attributes its report to conversations with "two well-placed law enforcement officials" and their claims are at direct odds with previous prosecution assessments of the accuser's testimony, a fact the paper highlights with a sidebar. Forensic tests turned up "unambiguous evidence of a sexual encounter" between the two. But the heart of The Times report are four main challenges to the accuser's credibility:
- The first is that the hotel maid spoke about potentially benefiting from the case in a recorded phone call:
the woman had a phone conversation with an incarcerated man within a day of her encounter with Mr. Strauss-Kahn in which she discussed the possible benefits of pursuing the charges against him. The conversation was recorded.
Second is who she had the phone call with: an unnamed man who has been "arrested on charges of possessing 400 pounds of marijuana." Implicating her in that alleged crime, The Times also reports that "He is among a number of individuals who made multiple cash deposits, totaling around $100,000, into the woman’s bank account over the last two years. The deposits were made in Arizona, Georgia, New York and Pennsylvania." The implication, however, leaves out how much of the $100,000 came from the incarcerated man, who the other benefactors are, or their reasons for such generosity.
Third, the accuser did not tell the truth about how many phone bills she had:
The investigators also learned that she was paying hundreds of dollars every month in phone charges to five companies. The woman had insisted she had only one phone and said she knew nothing about the deposits except that they were made by a man she described as her fiancé and his friends.
And lastly, there were some discrepancies over a prior claim or rape and genital mutilation in her asylum application when she immigrated to the U.S. from Guinea and in her interviews with investigators in the case:she told investigators that her application for asylum included mention of a previous rape, but there was no such account in the application. She also told them that she had been subjected to genital mutilation, but her account to the investigators differed from what was contained in the asylum application.
The most attention-getting part of The Times report is that they source these revelations to the prosecution. Strauss-Kahn's defense team, they write, "declined to comment on Thursday evening." It's worth noting that The Times ran with the story without hearing back from the accuser's lawyer; they write, "A lawyer for the woman, Kenneth Thompson, could not be immediately reached for comment on Thursday evening."
Previously, as their sidebar notes, assistant district attorney Artie McConnell had vociferously vouched for the credibility of the alleged victim's testimony:
The complainant in this case has offered a compelling and unwavering story about what occurred in the defendant’s room. She made immediate outcries to multiple witnesses, both to hotel staff and to police.
A hearing in the case was announced late on Thursday for 11:30 a.m. on Friday. The defense is expected to request that some of the bail restrictions on Strauss-Kahn, who is currently confined to house arrest, be lifted. The Times even reports that "Mr. Strauss-Kahn could be released on his own recognizance, and freed from house arrest, reflecting the likelihood that the serious charges against him will not be sustained."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.