NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — Dominique Strauss-Kahn’s next court date in his sexual assault case was postponed Monday, with prosecutors invoking a need for further investigation and defense lawyers saying they hoped it would lead to the end of the tumultuous case.
Previously set for July 18, the closely watched court date is now scheduled for August 1 as prosecutors weigh what to do about a case rocked by questions about the accuser’s credibility.
The Manhattan district attorney’s office told the judge in a letter that the postponement was “to facilitate both parties’ continued investigation,” but Strauss-Kahn lawyers William W. Taylor and Benjamin Brafman put their aims more concretely.
“We hope that during this time, the district attorney will make the necessary decision to dismiss the case against Mr. Strauss-Kahn,” they said in a statement.
For now, DA spokeswoman Erin Duggan said no decisions have been made. She characterized the delay as a routine bid for additional time to probe into the case.
Still, the schedule change seemed certain to provoke a new round of speculation over the direction of the case. Prosecutors said earlier this month that the case had weakened because Strauss-Kahn’s accuser, a hotel housekeeper who accused the former International Monetary Fund leader of trying to rape her, hadn’t been truthful about her background and her actions right after the alleged attack.
But prosecutors also said there was forensic and other evidence that could corroborate her account of Strauss-Kahn chasing her down in his luxury suite inside the Sofitel Hotel on May 14, forcing her to perform oral sex and trying to rape her. He denies the allegations, and his lawyers have said anything that happened wasn’t forced.
Prosecutors and defense lawyers met behind closed doors last week but have kept a tight lid on their discussion. Strauss-Kahn’s lawyers have said he won’t plead guilty to any charge.
Prosecutors haven’t raised questions about the veracity of her account of the alleged attack itself, but the revelations could make the 32-year-old maid a difficult witness for jurors to believe, experts say.
Among other falsehoods, she told prosecutors an emotional but invented tale of a previous sexual attack in her native Guinea, and she didn’t tell a grand jury she’d gone on cleaning rooms before reporting Strauss-Kahn’s alleged attack to a supervisor, prosecutors said.
They also learned she had alluded to Strauss-Kahn’s wealth during a phone call with a friend incarcerated on a marijuana charge, and that other people had deposited tens of thousands of dollars that she couldn’t explain into her bank account, a law enforcement official has said, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss matters not made public in court.
The woman’s lawyer, Kenneth Thompson, has said she is telling the truth about her encounter with Strauss-Kahn. Thompson has accused prosecutors of discrediting her and asked the DA’s office to recuse itself from the case, a request the office has called baseless.
“At the end of its investigation, we expect the District Attorney’s office to stand by the victim and take her case to trial. Justice requires no less,” he said in a statement Monday.
Some state lawmakers, women’s activists and immigrant advocates also have pressed the DA’s office to go ahead with the case. Whatever has come out about her background and inconsistencies, a jury should get to assess all the evidence in the case, they say.
Strauss-Kahn, 62, was freed from house arrest earlier this month.
The French economist and diplomat had been considered a leading Socialist Party contender to challenge conservative French President Nicolas Sarkozy next year. He resigned his IMF post days after his arrest. The case has left him in political limbo as a deadline looms Wednesday to register in the Socialist Party primary.
In the aftermath, a French writer brought a criminal complaint there last week saying Strauss-Kahn had tried to rape her in 2003. She gave a statement to French police investigators Monday, a judicial official said.
Strauss-Kahn’s lawyers have called the incident “imaginary” and threatened to file a complaint accusing the writer of slander.
SOUND-OFF: Share Your Thoughts On This Story In The Comments Section…
(TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)