Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the former head of the International Monetary Fund, who is accused of sexually assaulting a hotel housekeeper, was released from house arrest on Friday as the case against him moved closer to dismissal after prosecutors told a Manhattan judge that the credibility of his accuser was in serious question.
Prosecutors acknowledged that there were troubling revelations and glaring inconsistencies in various accounts given by the housekeeper, who accused Mr. Strauss-Kahn of trying to rape her in May.
In a brief hearing at State Supreme Court in Manhattan, prosecutors did not oppose his release; the judge then freed Mr. Strauss-Kahn on his own recognizance.
Assistant District Attorney Joan Illuzzi-Orbon told the court: ‘It’s clear that the strength of this case has been affected by substantial credibility issues with the witness.’
A 62-year-old Strauss-Kahn, who denies attempted rape and serious sexual assault, left the court smiling and with his arm around his wife, Anne Sinclair, after a judge lifted his stringent bail conditions. He had been held in a Manhattan house under armed guard.
Judge Michael Obus acknowledged that the risk of Strauss-Kahn absconding ‘had receded quite a bit’ but said he was ‘in no rush to judgment’ on the case. The charges have not been dismissed and the court will hold on to Strauss-Kahn’s passport.
But in account of the revealed facts the spotlight has shifted to the accuser of Strauss-Kahn. The hotel housekeeper claims that Strauss-Kahn subjected her to a vicious sex attack when she came to clean his suite at the Sofitel hotel, telling investigators he was naked and chased her across the room.
Forensic tests have revealed the pair indeed had a sexual encounter, but defence lawyers have claimed it was consensual.
While public opinion has so far weighed against Strauss-Kahn, who has a reputation as an aggressive womaniser, the maid’s lawyer had portrayed her as a hard-working single mother and devout Muslim.
But according to law enforcement officials that image is very far from the truth. Two official sources said the unnamed woman spoke on the telephone to an imprisoned alleged drug dealer within a day of her encounter with Strauss-Kahn.
In this conversation, which was recorded, she reportedly discussed the possible benefits of pursuing the charges against Strauss-Kahn.
Investigators also say they learnt that the man on the other end of the phone, who is accused of possessing 400lb of marijuana, is among several people who put cash deposits amounting to more than £62,000 into the maid’s bank account over the past two years.
The woman also has been paying hundreds of dollars each month in phone charges to five companies though she told police she had only one phone.
She allegedly told officials that she knew only that the deposits were made by a man she described as her fiancé and his friends. Prosecutors also say they discovered inconsistencies in her account of her past life.
She lied about details on her application for asylum in the U.S., including saying she had been gang-raped by soldiers in Guinea.
Investigators said they found a discrepancy between her account of how she had been subjected to genital mutilation and the version she had provided in her asylum application.