Sunday, August 21, 2011


The attorney for Nafissatou Diallo has received a letter from the Manhattan District Attorney's office offering to meet with his client on August 22, 2011, one day before Strauss-Kahn's next scheduled court appearance. The letter states, in part,"Should she not be available or should she fail to attend I will assume that she does not wish to take advantage of this opportunity." (A.P. report of 8/21). The attorney told the New York Times that he thinks prosecutors wouldn't have asked for the meeting unless they planned to give his client bad news about the case.

What is the D.A.'s intent? To drop some or all of the charges or to steam fully ahead? Are they angered by the alleged victim's filing a civil action against Strauss-Kahn for money damages stemming from his alleged sexual assault? Or are they caving to political pressure? They have already publicly stated that Diallo had lied to them about her personal history and some critical details of the case. Not exactly a comfort zone for the alleged victim. The D.A. is Cyrus Vance, Jr., the son of a highly regarded former United States Secretary of State, and therefore not unaccustomed to the sway of political winds. Several variables are at play here.

It should be noted that Diallo's discrepancies are tangential at best. They do not pertain to the ultimate question to be decided: was a sexual assault perpetrated? The D.A. found probable cause that it was, by bringing formal charges in the first place. Subsequently, at least one other complainant (in France) has come forward with similar charges. Strauss-Kahn's denial of guilt formulates an issue of fact. The D.A. should not assume the role of Judge and Jury and unilaterally resolve this question.

A cleaning woman at a Manhattan hotel versus the former head of the International Monetary Fund and probable candidate for President of France. Now, that's a photo-finish competition, for sure. As a criminal defense attorney, I'd be expected to be rooting for a toss of all charges. Aha! Now rises the activism in me. My sense of right and wrong kicks in.

For the D.A. to fold up his tent would be an act of cowardice. There's a vast difference between disbelieving a complainant in the first instance, and dumping her at the alter after proposing marriage. Dismissal, or reduction of charges, would signify a vestige of public duty.

A District Attorney's wont is to portray himself as representing the "people".
I'm one of them.
I say, get on with it.
Let the closure of this matter be clean.

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