A History of 'Bombshells' in the DSK Case
Our overview gets you ready for the next big news in this closely watched prosecution
Following on the news from Sunday that the office of New York District Attorney Cyrus Vance was planning to drop the criminal sexual assault charges against Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the New York Post on Monday promised the prosecution would drop a "bombshell" in the form of a new court filing detailing further evidence that the accusing witness, Nafissatou Diallo, lied to prosecutors about her actions around the day of the alleged assault on May 14. On Monday afternoon, Reuters reported prosecutors were meeting with Diallo and her lawyers in what was expected to be a discussion about dropping the charges. That meeting started just minutes after news broke that Diallo's legal team had filed a last-minute motion calling for a new prosecutor on the case before Vance could drop the charges. According to the Post:
The new details will include evidence that the maid lied to prosecutors about her caught-on-tape plotting for a Strauss-Kahn payday just one day after the alleged assault, and that she also lied to them about having had sex the night before the alleged assault -- a consensual encounter that offers an innocent explanation for redness cited by her lawyers as proof of Strauss-Kahn's guilt, the sources said.
But that filing, if it comes, will be just the latest in a case characterized by "bombshell" revelations, surprise decisions, and surreal scenes. The New York Times on Monday called the Strauss-Kahn case "one of the most closely watched prosecutions in New York in decades." We've compiled a list of the moments, large and small, that have made it so compelling.
May 15: The perp walk. The news of the arrest itself probably qualifies as the initial bombshell, but some of the story's first images to be splashed across news sites and papers were of an unshaven and tired-looking Strauss-Kahn being led from the Special Victims Unit into a police cruiser in handcuffs in the American media tradition known as the "perp walk." Scandalized, the French cried foul at the practice, but New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg dismissed the complaints. "If you don’t want to do the perp walk, don’t do the crime," he said at the time. However, after evidence surfaced that called the prosecution's case into doubt, he changed his tune. "I've always thought that the perp walks were outrageous," he said in early July.
May 18: French press publishes the accuser's name. Just as the French don't support showing photos of suspects in handcuffs before they've been convicted, the Americans make a practice of shielding the identity of sexual assault victims. So it was a scandal on this side of the Atlantic when Slate.fr, among others, published Diallo's name.
May 15-19: Strauss-Kahn in jail. The image of one of the world's most powerful men on suicide watch in New York's infamous Rikers Island jail was too compelling to leave alone, and it was the New York Daily News that finally landed the inevitable photo of him, looking hagard and exhausted, while waiting for the hearing at which he would be granted bail.
May 19: There goes the neighborhood. Granted a $6 million bail, including a $1 million deposit, Strauss-Kahn was released from jail and into house arrest, under the custody of a private security firm he paid for. He moved into a $50,000-a-month townhouse in TriBeCa, and a phalanx of reporters took up occupancy across the street.
May 23: The smoking gun. A report on a French news site breaks the story, leaked from a New York law enforcement source, that prosecutors had identified Strauss-Kahn's semen on the uniform of his accuser.
May 26: Opening shots. In a court filing ostensibly complaining about leaks to the media, Strauss-Kahn's lawyers suggested early on they had evidence that the accusing witness was not as reliable as she had been made out to be. The prosecution was not amused, and scolded the team in its reply. But it was the prosecution that would eventually publicly discredit its own witness.
July 1: The big revelation. In one of the greatest shocks of this case, the prosecution called a surprise hearing to announce it had new evidence that its star witness, the Sofitel Hotel housekeeper, was not as trustworthy as she seemed. It said she had changed her story about what had happened in the alleged assault, as well as lying about aspects of her past. On that news, Strauss-Kahn was released from house arrest and his bail refunded. After the hearing, her lawyer, Kenneth Thompson, railed at prosecutors and described in graphic detail her version of what happened in the hotel room on May 14. It's been unclear ever since whether the prosecutors would continue to pursue the criminal case.
July 5: The New York Post goes too far. After a series of stories over the Independence Day weekend -- including a front-page report -- alleging the accuser was working part time as a "hooker," Diallo sued the New York Post for libel.
July 6: Strauss-Kahn's TMZ moment. The reporters following Strauss-Kahn helped him unlock the stubborn door of his townhouse in a bizarre video that showed a rare image of Strauss-Kahn interacting with his press, the way celebrities often do with the paparazzi on TMZ.
July 24: Another big revelation. Nafissatou Diallo gave interviews to ABC News and NewsBeast, revealing her identity for the first time, and reasserting her call for the prosecution to continue against Strauss-Kahn. The Post reported that a district attorney source had said the media blitz was jeopardizing the case, hinting that the prosecution may not go forward. But Diallo pushed on, holding a press conference at which Thompson promised to sue Strauss-Kahn if the prosecution dropped its charges.
August 8: The civil suit. Even though the prosecution hadn't dropped its case, Diallo's lawyers went ahead with a civil suit against Strauss-Kahn in Bronx Supreme Court. The suit doesn't specify damages, but it alleges more victims and further evidence in the case against Strauss-Kahn. It also says Diallo lost income and suffered pain and emotional suffering due to the alleged attack.
Autust 21: Beginning of the end: Multiple reports came out on Sunday with news that prosecutors were planning to drop the Strauss-Kahn criminal case at a court appearance on Tuesday. In a last-ditch effort to save the criminal case on Monday, Thompson filed a motion to change prosecutors before the district attorney's team could formally drop the case.