Sex Case Against Ex-IMF Head May Be Unraveling

Jul 1, 2011
Originally published on July 1, 2011 1:12 pm
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This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Renee Montagne.


Carrie, good morning.

CARRIE JOHNSON: Good morning, Steve.

INSKEEP: What undermines the woman's testimony?

JOHNSON: The New York Times has reported she allegedly talked on the phone to a man who's been behind bars for drug offenses. Their phone call was recorded and they apparently talked within a couple of days of this incident with DSK, about the benefits of going forward with accusations against a man who's so famous and wealthy.

INSKEEP: Okay, I understand that it would take a while to look into the woman's background. But at the beginning, the district attorney said he had very strong evidence here. How could this case begin to look so different that they're now discussing whether to change the conditions of bail?

JOHNSON: Well, there's been an unusual level of scrutiny on this case all along. It's not a run-of-the-mill sexual assault case, to be sure. Dominique Strauss-Kahn's lawyers have hired a private detective firm to dig into this victim's background. And government investigators have been looking too. It's not clear why prosecutors didn't find some of this material earlier on, but based on what sources are saying, there are lots of issues from this housekeeper's past, perhaps even dating to her application for asylum to enter this country.

INSKEEP: What about DNA evidence? Wasn't there DNA evidence in this case?

JOHNSON: This trial, if there is one, is always going to come down to he said/she said. And if there are lots of problems with his housekeeper's credibility, it will be very hard to convince a jury that DSK is guilty.

INSKEEP: And if prosecutors come to that conclusion, they wouldn't even bring this trial. Is that correct?

JOHNSON: Yes. What's happening next in this case, is that there's going to be a hearing in court today in New York, where they're going to talk about loosening the restrictions on DSK's bail. He's been under a form of house arrest. Remember, he was taken into custody at the airport, when he was going to be flying home to France. They put him in Rikers Island for a few days. And as a condition of getting out of jail, he essentially is under 24-hour house guard, for which he is paying out of his own pocket - $200,000 a month.

INSKEEP: What are DSK's lawyers saying about these developments?

JOHNSON: And the housekeeper is not speaking much either, through her attorney, although I'm hearing that she's sticking to her allegations that she has been assaulted by DSK. The problem for prosecutors is all the other stuff in her background.

INSKEEP: But just to be clear, it is the prosecutors who are letting us know, who are indicating that that there's problems with the case here.

JOHNSON: Steve, that's what's so extraordinary about this. In a case that began in May, not that long ago, prosecutors will be appearing in court to present problems with their chief witness before a trial.

INSKEEP: I wonder if this is a good reminder for all of us, that in a big breaking news story, with white-hot attention, no matter what seems obviously true on the first day, may turn out to be not so true or truly untrue later on.

JOHNSON: We may learn all kinds of things from this case that we never expected to.

INSKEEP: Carrie, thanks very much.

JOHNSON: Thank you.

INSKEEP: That's NPR's justice correspondent Carrie Johnson, reporting on news that the case against Dominique Strauss-Kahn in New York City is weaker than previously believed. There's a court hearing today. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.