Dominique Strauss-Kahn vs a French Hotel Maid – Who’s the Criminal?

I watched coverage of Dominique Strauss-Kahn’s appeal against the original bail decision last night.  It was strange watching something that could have been a movie of a John Grisham book.  The prosecutor was pretty passionate and nicely articulate, but Strauss-Kahn’s lawyer was kind of hesitant, smug, a sort of quietly over-confident man which was somehow quite obnoxious.

I didn’t find his argument that Strauss-Kahn should be granted bail very convincing at all – that Strauss-Kahn is a trustworthy man, for a start.  Well, he’s on trial for an alleged rape that he very casually walked away from by his own lawyer’s admission.  Well, that either means he didn’t do anything wrong or he didn’t think twice about raping a woman, so it’s hardly a conclusive argument in Strauss-Kahn’s favor.

Then his lawyer argued that he’s only worth $2 million and has liquid assets in the low six figures.  Right, that’s totally believable of a man who was chief of the IMF.  The next argument was that he’s not a flight risk because – apart from the fact that he’s honorable and doesn’t have that much money – he lives with his wife in the US in a home that belongs to her.  That’s odd, he doesn’t own any houses anywhere?

The most convincing argument was that he’s well known in France (where it’s presumed he would flee because they don’t have extradition) so how could he possibly live the rest of his life out as a sex offender fugitive?   Strauss-Kahn’s lawyer asserted that the man wants to stay and clear his name because he’s innocent.

Maybe he is.  But it’s an awfully big story that’s been made up about him if that’s true.  He’s up on four felony counts – two of criminal sexual acts, one of attempted rape and one of sexual abuse – plus three misdemeanor offences, including unlawful imprisonment.  If he loses he could spend the rest of his life in jail.  His alleged victim, a hotel maid, appealed immediately to a couple of witnesses who have come forward, and she had a medical examination.  The prosecutor said both that and crime scene investigation substantiated her claims.  So it doesn’t look good for him.

And he’s got plenty reason to flee.  Even if he went to France, it  apparently doesn’t think rape is a crime, but he has high-flying contacts in probably every country in the world, so he could go anywhere he wanted.  I suppose either he’s innocent, in which case I wonder if this is all politically motivated, or he’s got enough money and influence that he thinks he can win anyway.

Time will tell.  The first judge who denied bail was a woman.  The second judge, who granted it, was a man.  Does that mean anything?  I don’t know.  All I know is that I didn’t find his lawyer’s arguments at all convincing.  Time will tell.  It’s a good story for a book or a movie.  One thing’s for sure, if Strauss-Kahn is guilty it’s probably not the first time he’s done this.  If he’s innocent a terrible thing has been done to him.

So far French newspapers have released the alleged victim’s name but the US press has refrained from doing so out of respect for her privacy.


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