As I told the Los Angeles Times, the Strauss-Kahn sexual assault case will be a hard fought matter. Former IMF head Dominique Strauss-Kahn has been charged in New York State Supreme Court with a variety of serious felony offenses in violation of sexual assault laws related to the allegation that he forced a hotel maid to engage in non-consensual sex acts with him. Various leaks by either the District Attorney’s Office or law enforcement have alerted the news media that prosecutors claim DNA evidence linking Strauss-Kahn to some kind of potential physical contact with the maid will be produced in court. However, much of the factual information that has made its way into the press presents the possibility that the defense will potentially aggressively exploit inconsistencies in the maid’s testimony. One of the downsides of leaking information in such a high profile case is that there is an emerging track record of contradictions.
Indeed, if there is no physical evidence of forcible compulsion, how did Mr. Strauss-Kahn possibly overpower the maid and cause her to have unauthorized sexual contact with him? Much of the factual scenario simply makes no sense. While the mere allegation of this kind of conduct has essentially ruined Mr. Strauss-Kahn’s career, the tale told in the courtroom will likely be an altogether different one and it is virtually certain that the defense will build on already existing inconsistencies to attack the prosecution’s case. Such an approach to witness credibility is not some sort of unfair “blame the victim” attack by an unscrupulous sexual assault attorney. It is the sworn duty of any defense lawyer to seek every ethically permissible advantage for his or her client.
Sex crimes attorneys in the Manhattan D.A.’s office have charged serious attempted rape counts and sexual assault counts where there appears to be no bruising, torn clothing, or any objective indicia of struggle. Accordingly, the believability of the maid will be paramount to the prosecution’s case. The defense will do everything they can to expose what promises to likely be a significant number of discrepancies upon which they will argue there is reasonable doubt.