Updated at 12:42 a.m., Sept. 11, 2013
NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — Kenneth Thompson, a lawyer best known for representing the maid in the sex assault scandal involving former International Monetary Fund leader Dominique Strauss-Kahn, won the Democratic nomination for Brooklyn district attorney Tuesday, unseating longtime prosecutor Charles Hynes.
With 99 percent of precincts reporting Tuesday night, Thompson was leading with 55 percent of the vote.
Hynes has the support of the GOP but said he won’t run as a Republican. There are no other major party candidates in the general election.
Thompson, 48, is a former federal prosecutor who tried the brutal police attack on Abner Louima in 1999. Since going into private practice, he has represented victims of a 2007 steam pipe explosion in midtown Manhattan and Sherr-Una Booker, the woman at the center of a domestic violence scandal that caused serious political damage to then-Gov. David Paterson, who eventually dropped plans to run for a full term.
But Thompson became known around the world as the lawyer representing Nafissatou Diallo, the maid who accused Strauss-Kahn of sexually assaulting her in a Manhattan hotel room in May 2011. The case fell apart amid questions over her credibility. While Thompson was lauded for his steadfast defense of the maid, he was criticized for blocking prosecutors from speaking to her, and for allowing her to reveal her identity in a television interview before the investigation had been completed.
Thompson is poised to take over one of the nation’s largest district attorney’s offices — it sees more than 1,500 new cases a week and handles more than 80,000 per year.
Charles “Joe” Hynes, 78, held the job more than 20 years — a ubiquitous figure with a tough-on-crime persona that earned him diverse fans — and critics — throughout the borough.
He was blasted by some for being soft on crime in the borough’s large-but-insular Orthodox Jewish community. He was accused of catering to powerful rabbis who did not want criminal cases, especially sex abuse cases, handled by secular authorities. Hynes denied the allegations.
He also this year ordered a review of more than 50 cases handled by a now-retired detective after a conviction was overturned and questions came up about the reliability of a drugged-out witness used in many of the cases.
“The DA has the lowest felony conviction rate in the city,” Thompson said. “The Brooklyn DA also has the second lowest conviction rate for gun crimes.”
Hynes had said his conviction numbers are low due to alternative sentencing programs such as the drug treatment initiative that allows defendants who complete rehab to have the charges against them dismissed.
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