Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. should be replaced by a special prosecutor in the case of Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the lawyer for the hotel housekeeper who accused him of sexual assault told a judge.
Vance has sabotaged the prosecution of the former International Monetary Fund chief, who in May was charged with assaulting and attempting to rape hotel maid Nafissatou Diallo, her lawyer, Kenneth Thompson, said today in court papers.
Vance’s office asked Justice Michael Obus in a filing today in New York state court to dismiss the charges against Strauss-Kahn, saying prosecutors no longer believed Diallo’s “version of events beyond a reasonable doubt whatever the truth may be about the encounter between the complainant and the defendant.”
Thompson argued in his filing that outside prosecutor should handle the case because Vance’s office has “victimized” his client, subjected her to verbal abuse, and appears to have leaked damaging and false information to the press about her credibility.
“The DA’s handling of the prosecution against defendant Strauss-Kahn has been inadequate and troubling,” Thompson said.
Prosecutors failed to question Strauss-Kahn for several hours after he was taken into custody by New York authorities, Thompson said.
“As rape and sexual assault victims around the world watch the DA methodically destroy the criminal case it is charged with prosecuting, it is incumbent upon this court to relieve the DA of its prosecutorial duties in this case and appoint a special prosecutor,” he said.
A hearing in the case is scheduled for tomorrow.
‘Half a Brain’
Assistant District Attorney Joan Illuzzi-Orbon said June 9 she didn’t find Diallo credible, Thompson said. “No one with half a brain would ever put her on the stand,” he quoted the prosecutor as saying. Another prosecutor that day screamed at Diallo within earshot of her daughter, he said.
A spokeswoman for Vance’s office declined to comment on Thompson’s special-prosecutor request.
Diallo sued Strauss-Kahn this month in New York state court in the Bronx, alleging that “violent and deplorable acts” occurred May 14 in his suite in the Sofitel, a midtown Manhattan hotel. She seeks unspecified monetary damages. Strauss-Kahn pleaded not guilty to the criminal charges.
Thompson told the New York Times that he sees the invitation to today’s meeting as part of a Vance plan to drop some or all of the charges, the newspaper reported.
Taken From Plane
Strauss-Kahn, 62, was taken off an Air France flight at John F. Kennedy International Airport in Queens, New York, hours after Diallo accused him of trying to rape her in his suite. He resigned from the IMF on May 19.
Strauss-Kahn, once a potential contender for the presidency of France, was jailed and later placed under house arrest on $1 million bail and a $5 million bond. He was released from home confinement on July 1 after prosecutors told Obus that Diallo raised “substantial credibility issues.”
Diallo told prosecutors that she lied to immigration authorities about a gang rape in Guinea as she sought political asylum in the U.S., the prosecutors said. She also changed her story about what she did immediately after the alleged attack in the Sofitel, they said.
The police previously said Diallo gave a credible account of the hotel incident and that they had found forensic evidence supporting her allegation.
Benjamin Brafman, Strauss-Kahn’s lawyer, said after the July 1 hearing at which Diallo’s lies were disclosed that he thought the charges would be dismissed.
“We have maintained from the beginning of this case that our client is innocent,” Brafman and a second Strauss-Kahn lawyer, Bill Taylor, said today in a statement. “There were many reasons to believe that Mr. Strauss-Kahn’s accuser was not credible.”
Vance, 57, said after the July 1 session that he would investigate both sides in deciding what to do in light of the lies and the evidence.
The civil case is Diallo v. Strauss-Kahn, 11-307065/2011, New York State Supreme Court, Bronx County (the Bronx). The criminal case is People v. Strauss-Kahn, 11-02526, New York State Supreme Court, New York County (Manhattan).