06.30.11

Strauss-Kahn: Off the Hook?

Explosive new allegations have nearly destroyed the credibility of ex-IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn’s accuser—and he could soon go free. John Solomon reports on the wild case’s next steps.

In a shocking turnaround, New York prosecutors in the sexual assault case against Dominique Strauss-Kahn plan to tell the judge Friday they have serious concerns about the credibility of the hotel maid who made the allegations against the former International Monetary Fund chief, two sources tell The Daily Beast.

The sources, who spoke only on condition of anonymity, said the district  attorney’s office disclosed potentially exculpatory evidence to Strauss-Kahn’s lawyers during a meeting Thursday and won’t oppose a defense request to loosen the defendant’s bail at a planned hearing Friday. The sources said, however, prosecutors are not yet ready to ask for the charges to be dismissed and plan to ask the court for more time to investigate the case.

Prosecutors plan to tell the judge, “We have credibility issues with our main witness, and we need more time before we go forward,” one source said.

The sources said prosecutors still have significant physical evidence that a sexual encounter occurred between the maid and Strauss-Kahn inside a luxury room of Manhattan’s Sofitel Hotel on May 14.

But investigators for the district attorney’s office have uncovered several pieces of evidence raising questions about the victim’s credibility, much of it unrelated to the alleged sexual assault.

The evidence includes inconsistencies in her asylum application when she came to the United States, unusual financial transactions into her personal accounts as well as contacts she had with an incarcerated drug suspect, including one recorded conversation at the prison in which she discussed the financial merits of proceeding with the charges against Strauss-Kahn, one of France’s most powerful politicians, the sources said.

The New York Times, which first reported the concerns of prosecutors Thursday night, reported the woman had five different phones and had received as much as $100,000 into her accounts in the last two years from the man in prison and others, which raised concerns for the prosecutors.

One source said among the most serious concerns prosecutors have is that the alleged victim told them she sought asylum from French Guinea after an earlier rape, but investigators found no mention of the rape in her asylum application.

Kenneth Thompson, a lawyer for the maid, did not return calls to his cellphone or office Thursday night. William Taylor, a lawyer for Strauss-Kahn, did not return a call to his home or cell phone seeking comment.

Strauss-Kahn’s lawyers made clear within weeks of his arrest they had uncovered their own information casting doubt on the maid’s credibility, and it was widely expected after DNA tests confirmed a possible sexual encounter that the fallen IMF chief would argue that the hotel encounter was consensual.

The sources said prosecutors still have significant physical evidence that a sexual encounter occurred.

Whatever the outcome, the allegations have already led Strauss-Kahn to resign as IMF boss and have tarnished his political future in France, where he was once considered a leading candidate for president.

The latest twist in a case that has captivated two continents follows a familiar path from some other famous high-profile sexual assault cases, which have turned on issues of the credibility of the victim. Among them was the case dropped against Duke lacrosse players and the 1991 acquittal of Kennedy family scion William Kennedy Smith.