July 1, 2011

Lessons from the DSK case

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We sit here now, watching as the sexual assault case against former IMF head Dominique Strauss-Kahn falls apart, as his life has fallen apart since that infamous night at the luxury New York Sofitel.  From the time this came to light, since he was removed from his plane moments before takeoff, the perp walk, the suicide watch at Rikers, and then finally the house arrest with private police to the tune of  $250,000 per month (on top of the $6 million bail), this case has been larger than life. 

Widely presumed to be a strong contender for the French preisdency, and one of the most powerful men in the world, it seemed odd that DSK could be brought down by a hotel maid. It now seems possible (if not likely) that charges will be dropped, either because the woman is lying or because her credibility overall is so suspect that the case won’t be able to go forward.  

The hotel maid apparently lied on her application to come to America, including about having been gang raped. She apparently lied about some financial issues, including multiple cell phones and numerous deposits into several differnt bank accounts in her name. And she was taped in a conversation with a prison inmate discussing Strauss-Kahn’s wealth. More importantly, she apparently lied about her actions the night of the alleged assault.  

This one might have been doomed to fail from the very beginning. Too famous a perp, too glitzy a hotel, too eager a DA, too crazy a story to beleive.  But one thing is certain. We cannot let the outcome in this case mean anything more than just this case.

Victims of sexual assault deserve their day in court, and having a less than stellar background does not mean that a woman can't be assaulted. Likewise, people charged with crimes are innocent until proven guilty, even when they're larger than life characters. Regarding perp walks, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said "The real sad thing is if somebody is accused, does the perp walk, and turns out not to have been guilty. And then society really should look in the mirror and say we should be more careful the next time."

We need to be sure we learn all of the appropriate lessons from this one.

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