The Manhattan District Attorney's office has officially dropped its charges against Dominique Strauss-Kahn (DSK), the former International Monetary Fund chief and French presidential hopeful, who was accused last May of sexually assaulting New York hotel maid Naffisatou Diallo. To the layperson, the intricacies of the case can be confusing, at best. Did Diallo fabricate the charges? Was DSK falsely accused? Or did his wealth and power help him dodge the bullet of justice?
The New York Times reports that women's groups are decrying the dismissal of charges against DSK as a denial of justice for Diallo, effectively convicting DSK solely on Diallo's say-so. DSK's supporters have likewise convicted Diallo of making false accusations. Both sides have trampled all over the basis for criminal jurisprudence: the presumption of innocence until proven guilty.
Why The Charges Were Dropped
The presumption of innocence means that until the prosecutor presents evidence such that guilt is the only logical conclusion that can be drawn, a conviction cannot be had. Prosecutors in rape cases are often faced with a "he said, she said" situation in which the alleged rapist either denies ever having "sex" with the victim or argues that it was consensual. When the alleged victim's credibility is less than sterling, it makes it extraordinarily difficult to meet the "beyond a reasonable doubt" standard, particularly when there is a dearth of compelling physical evidence, forensic evidence and percipient witness testimony. According to prosecutors, the primary evidence in the DSK case was Diallo's testimony. If, as alleged, she has credibility issues (apparently she lied about being gang-raped in her native Guinea), there's not a snowball's chance DSK would be convicted. Prosecutors know this and that's apparently why the charges were dismissed. The prosecutor has not decided that DSK is innocent, only that the charges cannot be proved.