Foreign Affairs

Ex-IMF Chief Rape Case Shows Difference Between Truth and Justice

A New York judge has lifted former Internattional Monetary Fund Seducer-in-Chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn’s house arrest, releasing him on his own recognizance while retaining his passport until the end of proceedings.  While the charges against Strauss-Kahn for allegedly sexually assaulting a New York hotel maid in May of this year still stand, it remains to be seen how long that’s the case.
 
The shift came when the Manhattan County District Attorney’s office disclosed in a letter to the defense team that the accuser admitted to lying on her 2004 asylum application.  According to her lawyer, she came forward and volunteered this information to prosecutors through him in the interest of accuracy.  The prosecution further admits in the letter that “the complainant was untruthful with assistant district attorneys about a variety of additional topics concerning her history, background, present circumstances and personal relationships,” without providing specific details.  The New York Times has since disclosed that the accuser confirmed her story of alleged rape to a boyfriend held in an immigration jail in Arizona, during a taped private conversation in her native dialect.
 
Depending on personal biases and projections, one might choose to focus on the fact that she has a boyfriend in jail, or rather on the confirmation of her version of the rape story.  The only opinion that matters is that of the jury hearing and weighing all the facts—if they’re ever given that chance.  Any lies on asylum applications should be dealt with and punished harshly to the full extent of the law.  Should this woman face punishment for that?  Indeed she should— up to and including deportation, if warranted.  But it ought to logically be possible to separate and isolate this from the unrelated facts of the alleged rape incident in question.
 
But justice is a game that doesn’t necessarily uncover the truth.  A person can be telling the truth and still have her case dismissed because the prosecutor doesn’t feel it can be won with 100% certainty.  The public is then left to conclude that because the case wasn’t pursued, the accuser must then be a liar and the accused “innocent” or “exonerated.”  In reality, they often just luck out because to make it all the way through the game of “justice,” having the truth on one’s side isn’t enough.  Particularly in rape cases, one needs to be the perfect victim.
 
The rationale is that if an accuser has lied at some point in her life, then she might be lying about rape.  Yet it’s a pretty sure bet that the victim of every rapist currently behind bars has lied at some point in her life.  If that was the test applied to every crime, then no one would ever be imprisoned—unless the victim was already dead, and therefore proven to have definitely not lied about being murdered.
 
Dominique Strauss-Kahn’s friends and supporters have argued that he may be a seducer, but certainly isn’t some kind of Neanderthal rapist.  These are two totally different things, they say.  Can’t the same logic also be applied to his accuser?  Isn’t it equally feasible that she can admit to lying on an asylum application, yet be entirely truthful about this particular physical attack, particularly if the scientific evidence supports her claim?
 
No other crime requires its accuser to have such a stringently angel-like personal history.  If, for example, the case against Strauss-Kahn were stayed and I decided to subsequently schedule a dinner with him during which I swift-kicked him in the testicles, could I then just tell the authorities in response to any assault accusations and medical proof of my stiletto imprinted on his gonads that he has an obvious history with women so therefore can’t be trusted to be telling the truth about the incident?  Could I just blow it all off by telling investigators, “Pffft.  Have you heard about this guy’s case in New York?  Have you seen what the newspapers say about this clown?  Now can I please have my Louboutins back from the evidence room?”  Or would they tell me that even onetime alleged rapists can’t spend the rest of their lives subjected to women kicking them in the cojones, and my Louboutins would be available for pickup after my assault trial?
 
Nothing in the prosecutors’ letter calls into question the facts or evidence surrounding the alleged rape—only the victim’s history and background.  Nor does the note serve to explain how Strauss-Kahn’s semen allegedly ended up on a woman he claims he didn’t rape, yet didn’t know prior to his stay in the hotel room she was cleaning.  Unless semen-smearing is the new handshake, there’s something that doesn’t quite add up.  Her lawyer also describes a serious shoulder ligament tear possibly requiring surgery.  Those are the kinds of issues a trial would have to address.  But in order to get to the point of trial, the prosecutor can’t be spooked by the idea of an imperfect victim possibly blemishing his track record.  Players in the game of justice don’t want to ruin their high score, even if dropping a case means never getting the facts out where they can be fully evaluated.
 
May the prosecutors nut-up and the game of justice be allowed to play out.

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