Friday, July 01, 2011

Rush to Judgment

Prosecutors in New York City have acknowledged that the rape case against former IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn is about to collapse, as evidence has emerged casting serious doubt of the trustworthiness of his accuser, a hotel maid from Guinea. Investigators from the District Attorney's Office cast doubt on her accusations.

My Gut Reaction: They couldn't have figured this out before they filed the charges?

Analysis: Suspicions about the accuser's credibility arose from inconsistencies in her statements to investigators. For instance, the maid claimed that she emigrated from Guinea due to being raped there, but could find no mention of rape in her application. Furthermore, evidence emerged of her connections to drug dealers.

None of this in itself cast prima facie doubt on her accusations, but the most damning evidence was a recorded phone call between the maid and a prisoner incarcerated for drug trafficking. In the phone call, the maid gushed about the financial advantages of pressing charges against Strauss-Kahn. I may never have been raped, but I think it is a pretty good guess that after a traumatic experience like that, your first thought would not be its financial advantages.

In other words, the maid's a liar.

In light of this, a far more convincing explanation emerges. The maid slept with Strauss-Kahn, a known womanizer, consensually, and decided to get a quick buck by blackmailing him. Somehow, the authorities became aware of her accusations, and when they came to her, she decided to press her advantage by means of criminal charges, failing to realize that with such charges would come an investigation of her background.

This case has further significance when one considers how the American and European media often rush to judgment on rape cases. For instance, Julian Assange has been convicted in the media in spite of the real likelihood that the accusations against him were made by a CIA plant. Even liberal commentators like Katha Pollitt have joined in the lynch mob. Perhaps the Strauss-Kahn case should serve as a reminder of the "innocent until proven guilty" principle, especially in cases involving public figures.

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