Potential Holes in the DSK Case

Friday, July 01, 2011

Jami Floyd, legal analyst, and It's a Free Country blogger, discusses the New York Times and AP reports that the Manhattan DA's case against former IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn is weakening.


Jami Floyd

Comments [42]


"But why, Eva, are you so prepared to construct this far-fetched narrative to explain this rather common,though despicable behaviour,on the part of many men,and it appears, DSK included?"
I believe the "other men" I referred to were the "Central Park Five" - who, even as a youth during their arrest I suspected were innocent. And of course, they were.

People who are tried in the media, Bernard, are often innocent. Why are you trying to force a gender bias onto this, instead of analyzing the facts as we know them from the prosecution's own admission. Did you not actually read the letter from the DA? Did you not read the rest of the coverage? Are you, like Fuva, ready to condemn someone accused based on past anecdote, while ignoring the literally criminal activity and serial prevarications of the accuser?
The "far-fetched narrative" you refer to isn't on the part of those who examine the evidence and ask questions. If you actually read the material FROM THE PROSECUTION (!!!) you'd realize the "f.f.n." is inherent in this witness' testimony BEFORE A GRAND JURY.
If someone can't understand the basic principle of American justice (innocence until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt) I can't afford more time explaining it to you.

Jul. 02 2011 12:23 PM
Bernard from Bronx

I too have a problem with believing rape via oral sex in this particular situation. But it is certainly believable that the encounter started consensually and quickly deteriorated into rape.
But why, Eva, are you so prepared to construct this far-fetched narrative to explain this rather common,though despicable behaviour,on the part of many men,and it appears, DSK included?

Jul. 02 2011 09:51 AM

"Interesting conspiratorial questions from Eva. But how do these questions jive with DSK's own behaviour- if we are to believe the accuser's lawyer- to wit: brutal physical force of a sexual nature resulting in bodily injury to the victim and sexual activity as evidenced by bodily fluids left over by DSK?"

First, I'd like to make clear that I have no better idea of what happened between DSK and the housekeeper than anyone else. And I am actually grateful that so many people, fuva and hjs included, are rightly pointing out that you don't have to be an angel to be raped. But as I have more questions about this than they appear to have, let me attempt to answer what you put forth:

1) "if we are to believe the accuser's lawyer -"
I'm not sure that we should - he's chasing a payday and now that the witness has credibility issues, he's forced to cover his ass.

2) "brutal physical force of a sexual nature"
That's unproved. We know she has bruises, which you or anyone else, could inflict on one's own skin accidentally or on purpose. What we don't know is whether these bruises were inflicted by DSK.

Separately, there are allegedly remnants of skin and semen that match DSK's DNA. That's entirely consistent with the consensual sexual contact that DSK's team admits.

But none of the above proves rape any more than it "proves" she intentionally bruised herself in order to frame DSK.

3) can you, or anyone else here, explain how a 60-year-old male "forces" a healthy 32-year-old woman to give him oral sex without the assistance of a gun or a knife, as the prosecution has claimed?even if she were toothless, the human jaw remains a powerful combination of muscle and bone tissue. But... she's not, to our knowledge, toothless. So how, exactly, did that occur? 

Bottom line: the rush to judgment on DSK was as unfair as a rush to judgment on the unnamed housekeeper would be. 

But I do know, having worked in PR for the banks, that it's not so hard to take down a man like DSK. Not to mention that he had powerful enemies.

What interests me is the highly binary take by many, which I'll roughly paraphrase as "man= perpetual perpetrator, woman = perpetual victim."

Is it possible that enemies of DSK entrapped this vulnerable woman to entrap DSK, and they are both getting a bum rap? Or is it possible she's been paid off by DSK's team to contradict her own testimony? Neither would be novel strategies.... Just pages from the playbook that's as old as Rome itself.

We'll probably never know.

Jul. 01 2011 11:36 PM
Bernard from Bronx

Interesting conspiratorial questions from Eva. But how do these questions jive with DSK's own behaviour- if we are to believe the accuser's lawyer- to wit: brutal physical force of a sexual nature resulting in bodily injury to the victim and sexual activity as evidenced by bodily fluids left over by DSK?

Jul. 01 2011 10:51 PM
Stephen from CT

This case was ill-founded from the get-go. The poor can be as ignoble as the rich. The police mark off the scene; the media rushes in with yellow stick-ons of its own, HERO and VILLAIN;
prosecutors muse how good S-K will look on their wall; it's christmas-in-spring for the tabloids.
And now, it seems, there's a fly in the ointment: Strauss-Kahn may well be not guilty, which doesn't say innocent, mind you.

Jul. 01 2011 02:26 PM

"Fuva = rape is real and its victims deserve justice. But the overall oppression on women is through economic injustice. It's constant and effects almost every single woman in the world, individually."

I could not have stated it more clearly, thanks.

I think we're in this constant battle wherein the "sexy", easily comprehended stories garner all the media space.

But the question of how the eurozone crisis will be handled far more harshly by Lagarde doesn't interest that many people, even though a lot of women are being crushed by the ongoing austerity measures (and not just in Europe.)

Was DSK an IMF hero? No, I have a lot of complaints about the IMF. But I don't fail to comprehend that his replacement - backed by Geithner - is potentially far worse.

As for Spitzer, I doubt that most New Yorkers comprehend just how aggressively he fought for the environment and for ordinary people as Attorney General. I strongly recommend Alex Gibney's documentary "Client 9." And no, I am not conflating Spitzer's hiring of escorts with the rape claims against DSK. I am, however, aware of The role played by the DOJunder the Bush admin, and Roger Stone, in the UNUSUALLY SELECTIVE prosecution of "Client 9".

I'm far from cynical, but I remain classically skeptical when soi-disant feminists first condemn DSK based on previous allegations of harassment (and they remained allegations only) then turn around and claim that allegations of money laundering, etc CANNOT be considered when assessing the credibility of the witness.
WHICH is it, my feminist sisters? We cannot have it both ways AND maintain our credibility.

Jul. 01 2011 02:01 PM

Fuva = rape is real and its victims deserve justice. But the overall oppression on women is through economic injustice. It's constant and effects almost every single woman in the world, individually.

Jul. 01 2011 01:38 PM
Fuva from Harlemworld

So, wait, sex rape is not real? In our analysis, let's not lose the nuance...By the standards of the short-sighted, who use these so called "revelations" to dismiss the credibility of the alleged victim, many many raped women would see no justice -- especially socioeconomically vulnerable women. It's scary....

Jul. 01 2011 01:22 PM

Eva - I like the point about the "real rape is economic". Women, rise up and claim power!

Jul. 01 2011 12:53 PM
Fuva from Harlemworld

eva, you got it wrong...but I'm at work... but we'll meet again. happy holiday.

Jul. 01 2011 12:43 PM
Fuva from Harlemworld

Yes, eva. And I'm not suggesting she was raped simply because she said she was. I'm saying that, under the circumstances, it really must go to trial. The "revelations" haven't been clearly spelled out. But if they are relevant, then BOTH parties have credibility issues that must be brought to light and thoroughly vetted.

Jul. 01 2011 12:43 PM

"...and the thing is, eva, your intricate conspiracy theories could be true (though I doubt it) AND he still raped her...If Spitzer was also "entrapped" by big money conspirators, he was completely complicit in it by committing the crime (correct?)..."
I don't think I laid out any "intricate conspiracy" theory - I merely asked wholly legitimate questions about the timing and the manner in which this was handled.
Further, there are entirely valid questions about how the Bush justice department pursued the Spitzer case.
I think we could argue in circles, Fuva, but the pattern from our posts seems obvious: you're outraged by sex scandals, and I'm not.
I think feminists have jacked themselves on this issue - the real rape isn't sexual, but economic. And it is the larger economic picture that this feminist (myself) finds scandalous.
Neither you, nor John, nor hjs have addressed the issue of DSK's post being taken over by someone more amenable to US demands.

The he-said-she-said of an alleged rape (forced ORAL sex? Not so sure about that one....) is really not the story here.

Jul. 01 2011 12:38 PM

Elizabeth -thanks.
"That she MAY have fallen to the myriad pressures poverty produces and cleaned money for a marijuana dealer, for an extra dollar, doesn't mean she wasn't raped."

You're right, it doesn't. But neither does it mean she was raped simply because she claimed she was raped.
Further, while I'm sympathetic to the notion that she may have been in financial need, I don't think money laundering is justified in any way, particularly because she had a stable (and I believe Union-protected) job with benefits. My neighbor in NY was a maid in midtown and raised three kids alone on those wages and benefits - no side-money-from-crime was needed. It's an insult to maids to insinuate they're so poor that they need to launder cash for criminals.

Jul. 01 2011 12:27 PM

per any dictionary
womanizer -
A man who philanders: Casanova, Don Juan, lady's man, philanderer.

no eva it's not a crime. and i never said it was

Jul. 01 2011 12:22 PM

Considering the "rush to judgement" by Cyrus Vance, I wonder how so much information got out to the media so fast. Who leaked, NYPD or the DA's office? Why so much leaking?

An interesting tidbit: Since Sarkozy viewed S-K as a pretty certain opponent for the presidency, is the fact the Sarko was a friend of Ray Kelly of any importance in how this was handled?

In 2006, Ray Kelly was awarded France’s Legion of Honor by France’s Interior Minister, then one Nicolas Sarkozy.

More info from this post by Leonard Levitt of NYPD Confidential:

"Police Commissioner Ray Kelly’s tepid response to allegations that the NYPD has leaked damaging information about the sexual assault case of International Monetary Fund ex-leader Dominique Strauss-Kahn is so out of character it makes one wonder.

“I certainly hope that’s not the case,” Kelly said of the alleged police leaks, after Strauss-Kahn’s lawyers complained that the disclosures were damaging his right to a fair trial.

Such a meek response from the police department’s micromanaging commissioner raises this question: Could Kelly be deliberately seeking to discredit Strauss-Kahn?
Those alleged NYPD leaks about Strauss-Kahn to the media were devastating. They involved reports that he supposedly attempted to flee to France after the alleged rape, and other reports that his DNA matched semen found on the maid’s clothing.

While this column would never suggest that Kelly might do anything unethical or improper [other than accepting hundreds of thousands of dollars in freebies from the non-profit Police Foundation or having detectives from his detail chauffeur his wife around town], it is interesting to contrast his response to the Strauss-Kahn leaks with his draconian reaction to leaks in another high-profile sexual assault case, which occurred a few months before he received his Legion of Honor award.

That was the murder of Imette St. Guillen, a graduate student found raped and bound off the Belt Parkway in Brooklyn after she left a SoHo bar.

Then, Kelly was so disturbed over leaks that he launched a sweeping probe of the NYPD’s entire Detective Bureau."

Jul. 01 2011 12:20 PM
Fuva from Harlemworld

...and the thing is, eva, your intricate conspiracy theories could be true (though I doubt it) AND he still raped her...If Spitzer was also "entrapped" by big money conspirators, he was completely complicit in it by committing the crime (correct?)...

Jul. 01 2011 12:19 PM

"His reputation as a womanizer will remain intact."
Reminder: 1) being a "womanizer" (whatever that means, and I'm sure it's subjective) isn't a crime, and 2) to quote Joan Didion quoting Clark Gable, "with enough character, you can survive without a reputation."

Jul. 01 2011 12:17 PM

Eva, -precisely. Well said.

Jul. 01 2011 12:13 PM

I completely agree that the Central Park 5 were in an entirely different category, and that case remains in my mind as one of the greatest (seen) travesties of justice in my lifetime. I remember as a very young person thinking that the teens arrested were innocent - but try telling that to my neighbors in New York? They went ballistic at the suggestion.
Having said that, there are some similarities:
1) angry new yorkers indignantly deciding guilt pre-trial based not on specifics of case but their own rage,
2) overly zealous prosecution failing, or refusing to look at all the facts,
3) case tried in media for media's sake.

Jul. 01 2011 12:08 PM

T/U Andrea for mentioning the big difference in the Central Park jogger case; I was waiting for either the guest of Brian to do so.

Jul. 01 2011 12:06 PM

u said how does he get his reputation back?
His reputation as a womanizer will remain intact

Jul. 01 2011 12:02 PM
Andrea from Philadelphia

I just want to point out that the central park jogger case was in a different category. The victim didn't make false allegations; she was unconscious when the police the police arrested the wrong people. She was raped; the wrong people were tried and convicted. The police pressured the kids to confess--they were indicted and convicted based on false confessions and the combined prejudices and laxness at various stages of the criminal justice process.

Jul. 01 2011 11:58 AM
Truth & Beauty from Brooklyn

As a woman who has suffered from various degrees of sexual harassment/abuse over the years, I cannot be sympathetic to yet another "dirty old man."

On the other hand, this is a perfect example of why cases should be tried in the courtroom and NOT in the media. In US law, people are innocent until proven guilty for a reason.

At first glance, DSK seemed to be irrefutably guilty; under the microscope afforded by good investigative techniques, the entire incident looks different.

Meanwhile, DSK's reputation has been savaged.

For his sake, as well as that of all of us, I hope the FACTS come to light and that the innocent are freed and the guilty punished.

Jul. 01 2011 11:57 AM
Fuva18 from Harlemworld

(1) Important distinction you make between knowing criminals and crime. But it's barely material here. That she MAY have fallen to the myriad pressures poverty produces and cleaned money for a marijuana dealer, for an extra dollar, doesn't mean she wasn't raped.
(2,3) The point is, with the rich, the ENTIRE system -- including elected officials and bureaucrats -- is suspect and easily vulnerable to capture, not just the defense. Yeah, why DID the head of the sex crimes unit resign? Don't know a thing about that one, but I'd like to...
(4) Are you comparing the Central Park Five to DSK? That analogy fails quickly. (And not just cuz their DNA was found no place on the jogger...)
(5,6) She was blackmailed into entrapping him into what? Into forcibly having sex with her, then denying it? Perhaps many things are POSSIBLE. Question is, what's PROBABLE? Such questions MUSTbe answered at trial.

Jul. 01 2011 11:55 AM

"The issue is and should only be whether she was raped."
I'm afraid that, given the circumstances, many of us can't consider that the primary issue. How would DSK have finessed the negotiations over Greek debt vs. how will Lagarde do so? Why were NY prosecutors so overly zealous? Why are we only now, 48 hours after US-backed Lagarde wins the post, learning that the witness is "problematic"?

And why did this happen to DSK AFTER he questioned the wisdom of continuing to rely on the dollar as a reserve currency, which affords us 25 BILLION a year???

Jul. 01 2011 11:50 AM
Laura from Brooklyn, NY

I'm not sure why her immigration application has any bearing whatsoever on whether she was sexually assaulted. She is not the person under investigation, he is, particularly since this is not the first allegation that he has sexually harassed or assaulted women.

Jul. 01 2011 11:46 AM

Don’t feel bad for him. While he shouldn’t go to jail, he’s not a good person. Some rich married guy shouldn’t be having sex with hotel maids.

Jul. 01 2011 11:46 AM
carolita from nyc

Ever seen "Anatomy of a Murder"? Otto Preminger movie about a woman of 'loose morals" who got raped? Just because a woman is not a paragon of virtue, doesn't mean she can't be raped.

Jul. 01 2011 11:46 AM

John from Office:
Whether DSZ is a "turd" or not is irrelevant.
I would, however, ask about our lack of skepticism given the timing - Lagarde, whom Geithner favors, won DSK's post just 48 hours before these leaks. And why did Lisa Friel abruptly resign?
I'm not insisting on his innocence, but I do have to ask, who stood to benefit from this?

Jul. 01 2011 11:37 AM

It’s disturbing to hear that the witness’s credibility is in question because she calls a boyfriend in jail. The media, including WNYC, should not lead with that particular piece. The more serious finding is that there were large deposits, $100,000 or more, into her bank account which could suggest pay-off for a set up. It's easy to see how his political enemies would capitalize on his "weakness", pattern of violating boundaries, or whatever he does. If this encounter was consensual he should not be judged. It is not a crime to have sex or even to be promiscuous. If he has previous incidents of illegal behavior with women, I’m not sure he can get in trouble for that now unless it was dealt with legally and found to be true. If the accuser is not being truthful, let’s hope it will not harm women's future attempts to get justice. Men should not be assumed guilty and women’s testimony should be given full consideration.

Jul. 01 2011 11:36 AM
Bernard from Bronx

Great insights so far from many of the commentators. The issue is not the woman's background and whether or not she lived a model life, whatever that is. The issue is and should only be whether she was raped. If we don't keep that in mind, it will be open season on women who may deem to have problematic backgrounds.

Jul. 01 2011 11:35 AM

Instead of presenting this as a binary black-v-white, rich-v-poor scenario, maybe we can acknowledge that DSK, like Spitzer, had accrued very powerful enemies in the banking sector.

So perhaps it can be more accurately viewed as uber-wealthy(banking sector)-VS-rich-and-powerful-but-vulnerable-to-more-powerful-enemies (DSK)-VS.-poor-with-money-laundering-past.

Jul. 01 2011 11:26 AM

1) The issue isn't her familiarity with drug dealers, which is not criminal. The question is whether she was laundering money for them through her own bank account, which is criminal.
2) These leaks came from prosecution side, not the defense.
3) why did head of sex crimes unit suddenly resign this week?
4) you don't know what happened, neither do I. But I do remember how NYers freaked out over the Central Park Five, who were innocent. NY investigators still won't admit they screwed up.
5) has it occurred to you that she may have been blackmailed into entrapping him?
6)his DNA on her clothing is because there was a sexual encounter. Whether it was forced (and whether you can force a person to give oral sex?) IS the question.

Jul. 01 2011 11:22 AM

Hi John, thanks for replying. My question was purely objective with others defendents in mind. It seems like "innocent til proven guilty" is rendered ineffectual with the amount of media coverage. Consider how many people with less money and power, are accused and unable to clear their names. Anyway, I don't know if he is or isn't guilty.

Jul. 01 2011 11:22 AM
Lance from Manhattan

The best defense money can buy!

Jul. 01 2011 11:09 AM
Lance from Manhattan

Thank you, Fuva!

I'm waiting to hear how Strauss-Kahn got DNA on the housekeeper's clothes.

And how his initial indignant declarations that he was totally innocent and that absolutely NOTHING had occurred between them morphed into saying that whatever may have happened between them was consensual.

Jul. 01 2011 11:07 AM
Fuva from Harlemworld

So, because she -- a poor unfavored "third world" immigrant" -- may have lied on her immigration application (shocking!) and knows drug dealers (in the hood? shocking!), she wasn't raped?
So, she's "uncredible" and yet he -- with his LIES after his arrest and his horrible rep -- isn't?
The disparity in monetary and social capital between these two makes such weak "revelations" even weaker.
This really must go to trial, lest the implications for justice across socioeconomic divides be very very bad.
(If this dsk bs prevails, it will be ripe for deconstruction as an example of how the rich really do rule the world, and the income gap is widening, and the rest of us are distracted, ignorant, impotent serfs. Will be a good documentary.)

Jul. 01 2011 11:01 AM
john from office

Elizabeth, we have public trials and courts open to the public. So the the state cannot have secret trials.

I hope you dont veiw DSK as a victim here. He has a history of rape or attempts to rape. He is a french turd.

Jul. 01 2011 10:51 AM

Can anyone tell me why the media is legally allowed to film his face before he was found guilty? And are accusers in cases like these protected from the media?If it could happen to him it happens to other people whose reputations and lives are destroyed before they're found guilty.

Jul. 01 2011 10:43 AM
john from office

This sudden turn of events reeks of corruption. The great witness has turned into now the worst witness. The defense has not denied the sexual contact, but there will ne no trial because of DSK's stature. France should not be too proud here.

Jul. 01 2011 10:40 AM
Can wealth buy-off even a rape charge ? from Where's justice in the U.S. ?

DSK is wealthy and very well connected.
His wife is even richer.

Many people try to curry favor with the ultra rich - they do not need to be asked, no formal quid pro quo is needed.

People will deliver "gifts" and understand that they will be treated well for doing so later. If they oppose the ultra-rich, they will be destroyed.

When most people are accused of rape, they don't get to live in a private mansion with their own private security guards to serve them. DSK was too big to fail and was given this deference as modern day royalty.

In France, a victim of rape can't speak up against a powerful aggressor because she knows she will be destroyed. Is that true here too ?

Private investigators can "discover" (or create) weaknesses in a victim's history. Prisoners can offer "gifts" in the hopes of favors, or in fear of threats. Prosecutors can conveniently botch a case.

Predators will seek out people who have little recourse, people who will tend not to be believed, people who are easy to destroy.

Predators will know that these victims are helpless and prey on them further.

This may be routine "justice" in France, but has the U.S. also sunk to this, where the wealthy and well connected can have "droit du seigneur" on all us small people ?

Don't let DSK get away with rape.
Bring him to trial.

Jul. 01 2011 10:26 AM

After the bogus case against Julian Assange it's so obvious US intelligence services use sexual assault charges to undermine opponents. Liberals love to laugh at Republicans for being gullible to every old trick but liberals have their own easily exploitable weaknesses. The big bourgeoisie knows it doesn't take much to get the left to turn into a circular firing squad.

Jul. 01 2011 10:08 AM

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