NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — Case dismissed.
On Tuesday, Appellate Court Judge Michael Obus agreed to drop the sexual assault charges against Dominique Strauss-Kahn. The former head of the International Monetary Fund then spoke out for the first time, reports CBS 2’s Pablo Guzman.
Obus issued a written ruling on the special prosecutor request – less than an hour before Strauss-Kahn was due in court.
“The court concludes that nothing called to its attention establishes disqualification or warrants removal of the elected district attorney of this county,” wrote Obus.
When Assistant Manhattan District Attorney Joan Illuzzi-Orbon told the court her office was recommending all charges be dropped against Strauss-Kahn, his wife, Anne Sinclair, broke into a smile. That said it all, and later, the media heard Strauss-Kahn read a written statement.
“These past two and a half months have been a nightmare for me and my family,” he said. “I want to thank all the friends in France and in the United States who have believed in my innocence and to the thousands of people who sent us their support personally and in writing. I am most deeply grateful to my wife and family who have gone through this ordeal with me.
“We will have nothing further to say about this matter and we look forward to returning to our home and resuming something of a more normal life,” he said.
Strauss-Kahn’s attorney, Benjamin Brafman, maintained the importance of the difference between consensual sex and rape. “You can engage in inappropriate behavior, perhaps,” Brafman said. “But that does not make it a crime.
“This is a horrific nightmare that he and his family have lived through. It is impossible for you to understand or grasp the full measure of relief Dominique Strauss-Kahn feels today,” Brafman told CBS 2’s Sean Hennessey.
Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance was about to answer questions from reporters when Tuesday’s earthquake tremor struck. Later, in a statement, he pointed to the credibility problems of Nafissatou Diallo, who had said Strauss-Kahn tried to rape her inside the posh Sofitel hotel back in May, as the reason why charges were dropped.
“But her testimony was fatally damaged…In dismissing the case today, we believe — and I believe — this is the right decision,” Vance said.
As protestors vented in front of court, Diallo’s lawyer, Ken Thompson, blasted the DA.
“He has not only turned his back on this innocent victim, he has also turned his back on the forensic, medical and other physical evidence in this case,” Thompson said.
Diallo said she filed the suit to stand up for herself and other women.
“Dominique Strauss-Kahn got lucky,” said Sonia Ossorio, executive director for the New York City chapter of the National Organization for Women. “He attacked a woman with a shady past, and all too often in rape cases that’s exactly what we see. A woman’s past, her credibility, is what’s on trial — not the incident at hand.”
Thompson said he is continuing the civil case on his client’s behalf for monetary damages against Strauss-Kahn. Attorney Matthew Galluzzo, once a prosecutor in the Manhattan DA’s sex crimes unit, told Guzman he believes Diallo doesn’t have much of a claim at this point.
“I do think that what happened today significantly decreased the value of that lawsuit, let’s put it that way,” Galluzzo said.
Some legal observers also pointed out that there could be problems with having the civil case in the Bronx, because they say some of the Bronx jurors may have the same problems with holes in Diallo’s story that the Manhattan DA had.
What do you think? Should this case go forward? Or is dropping it the right move? Sound off in our comments section.
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