If Not Guilty, Still Not Innocent
Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the former IMF head and potential Socialist candidate for the French presidency who has been under house arrest for the last month due to charges of forcibly raping a hotel maid while staying at a ritzy hotel in New York, is now out on bail and word is that the prosecution case is “crumbling”. While physical evidence gathered in Strauss-Kahn’s hotel suite and from the maid herself shows unambiguously that an encounter between him and the maid occurred (Strauss-Kahn’s defense no longer denies this, but insists it was not forced), law enforcement officials have found that she lied on her immigration application, she has a boyfriend in prison in Arizona for drug dealing, and her account of the order of events surrounding the incident has varied over time. None of this necessarily indicates that she wasn’t raped, but it does allow a crack defense team to raise a lot of reasonable doubt.
Some of his allies are taking this as an exoneration:
Martine Aubry, the Socialist Party leader, was quoted on the Web site of the magazine L’Express as feeling “immense joy” that the case seemed to be faltering. “Speaking as a friend of DSK, I hope the American justice system will establish all the truth and allow Dominique to get out of this nightmare,” she said, using the initials by which Mr. Strauss-Kahn is widely known here.
Here in the US, some on the opinion pages are tut tutting that this is a prime example of how we need to be careful not to rush to judgement when someone is publicly accused of a crime.
I’m sure someone will think this is an example of class envy and middle class morality, but I for one am not feeling all that sorry for what Strauss-Kahn has been put through. If a wealthy and powerful banker/politician is going to solicit low paid employees at their hotels for sexual favors, I don’t really have a problem with throwing him in Riker’s Island for a couple days and publicly humiliating him for a while if said hotel employee wants to claim that the encounter was less than voluntary. Rather than complaining that Strauss-Kahn has had shabby treatment by the world over the last month, it might do for Strauss-Kahn himself to consider treating those he meets less like objects for his own personal satisfaction. However much an ambitious DA may salivate at the chance of bringing down a well known figure, surely the New York prosecutors would not have moved so fast if there had not been ample and indisputable physical evidence that something took place, which the maid insisted was quite involuntary on her part. (And despite her increasing lack of credibility as a witness, she may well be telling the truth about this.)
If France’s Socialists are eager to get DSK back as their representative, it says a lot about how they really think about how the elites and the workers should interact.