Strauss-Kahn Lawyers and Prosecution Meet
By JOHN ELIGON and WILLIAM K. RASHBAUM
Lawyers for Dominique Strauss-Kahn emerged from a meeting on Wednesday with Manhattan prosecutors, characterizing the session as “constructive.”
About New York: Still a Case for Trying Strauss-Kahn (July 6, 2011)
In Hospital Report, Housekeeper’s Graphic Account of Attack (July 5, 2011)
Times Topic: Dominique Strauss-Kahn
Related in Opinion
France, the U.S. and Strauss-Kahn (July 6, 2011)
The parties were expected to discuss whether the sexual assault case against Mr. Strauss-Kahn can be resolved through a dismissal or a plea agreement, according to a person briefed on the matter.
The meeting was held at the office of Cyrus R. Vance Jr., the Manhattan district attorney, but it was not clear if Mr. Vance had attended.
Mr. Strauss-Kahn’s lawyers, William W. Taylor III and Benjamin Brafman, entered the building shortly before noon. After emerging at 1:45 p.m., Mr. Brafman said that they “had a constructive meeting. That is all we are going to say.”
The hearing comes about two weeks before the next scheduled court appearance, on July 18, and days after prosecutors said the case was weakened because of problems with the accuser’s credibility.
Prosecutors were not expected to decide on Wednesday whether to dismiss the case or offer a plea as they continue to gather more evidence, according to a senior law enforcement official.
Mr. Strauss-Kahn, 62, was arrested and charged in May with trying to rape a housekeeper at the Sofitel New York and forcing her to perform oral sex.
Prosecutors last week called into question the housekeeper’s credibility after learning that, among other things, the woman, a Guinean immigrant, had lied on her asylum application and tax returns, and after she admitted altering her account of what she had done after encountering Mr. Strauss-Kahn. But prosecutors maintained that there was still evidence to suggest a sexual assault had taken place.
The question remains whether that evidence is strong enough for prosecutors to get Mr. Strauss-Kahn, who was once a leading candidate to become the next president of France, to plead guilty to some charge. It is possible that any deal would involve a misdemeanor plea in which he would serve no jail time and would be allowed to return to France. But it remains unclear if prosecutors have ruled out seeking a felony plea.
Mr. Strauss-Kahn’s defense team gave indications last week that he would be unwilling to plead guilty to any crime unless prosecutors presented strong evidence. Barring that, the Manhattan district attorney’s office would have to dismiss the charges altogether or go to trial.
The prosecution must also consider whether it believes the case is strong enough to proceed to trial if Mr. Strauss-Kahn refuses to plead guilty.
Erin M. Duggan, the chief spokeswoman for Mr. Vance, said on Wednesday that “the investigative process is continuing, and no decisions have been made.”
Mr. Vance, in interviews last week, reiterated his position that his office was taking the appropriate steps in a difficult case, given the evidence it had. Though some have suggested that his office moved too swiftly to indict Mr. Strauss-Kahn, the district attorney, who is in his second year on the job, got a ringing endorsement Tuesday on his handling of the case.
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, at a news conference in Brooklyn on Tuesday, praised Mr. Vance, saying he was “turning out to be a very good district attorney.”
“He’s taking on high-profile cases, and he’s facing them,” Mr. Bloomberg said. “And he probably made the right decision. Because if the allegations were true, are true, he had a legitimate worry about somebody fleeing this country, and we’d never get them back.”
Mr. Strauss-Kahn was taken off a plane bound for France when he was arrested at Kennedy International Airport.
But Mr. Bloomberg said something that might be looked at favorably by Mr. Strauss-Kahn and the French: that he was opposed to “perp walks,” the act of parading people accused of crimes before news cameras.
“I’ve always thought that the perp walks were outrageous, but that’s only my view,” he said. “Nobody’s asked me, and I have no say in it.”
In other developments on Tuesday, the housekeeper filed a libel lawsuit against The New York Post in State Supreme Court in the Bronx for articles in which the paper called her a prostitute.
The lawsuit, which asks for an unspecified amount of money, cites various front-page headlines, like “DSK Maid a Hooker,” “DSK ‘Refused to Pay’ Hooker Maid for Sex” and “She Saw Johns While in DA Protection!”
The stories were false, the lawsuit says, arguing that the woman has been subjected to “ridicule throughout the world.”
A spokeswoman for The Post, Suzi Halpin, said, “We stand by our reporting,” and declined to comment further.
Asked if the housekeeper had engaged in prostitution, Joan Illuzzi-Orbon, the lead prosecutor on the Strauss-Kahn case, said in an interview on Sunday, “I do not have one scintilla of information in that regard.”