Amid the Damage, DSK Criminal Case Set to End With Unanswered Questions (8/22)     Print Email

If, as expected, the New York prosecutor drops all charges Dominique Strauss Kahn, the criminal case against him on rape charges will be closed – leaving many questions about what actually happened in the Sofitel incident involving the cleaning woman, Nafissatou Diallo.

The case’s dismissal – apparently based on inconsistencies in her versions of events – will arouse protests from advocacy groups on behalf of minorities. Many people, both in the U.S. and in France and elsewhere, will want to discover more of the facts and also more about how the American justice system functions. On this bigger question, which almost reaches into epistemology, this enlightening theoretical comparison of the U.S. and French national judicial philosophies-- which bears directly on aspects of the DSK case, including the role of publicity in the whole episode -- comes from a French magistrate. On what actually happened in the case, further details may come to light if the plaintiff pursues her case as civil litigation. For the moment, some key elements remain unclear: the French news magazine “Le Nouvel Observateur” lists these unanswered questions:

Q: Why did Nafissatou Diallo return to the Sofitel hotel room (#2806), where she said she had been attacked?

A: It is one of factors that have damaged her credibility, the hotel maid, notably the fact that she returned to DSK’s room after the supposed rape. According to the evidence of the magnetic keycards about the 28th floor of the hotel, she cleaned suite #2830 then entered suite #2806 occupied by DSK at 12:06 pm. Then “after 12:26, her  keycard opened suite #2820– for about a minute – and then again suite # 2806.”

Her actions were explained by her lawyer Kenneth Thompson to L’Express news magazine in August: he said that “after the incident she went with incredible commitment to collect her cart that she had left in room #2820, the one she cleaned before DSK’s room. Yes, she returned mechanically for several seconds to room #2806 where she had just been attacked, without realizing what she was doing.”

According to “Le Figaro,” her superiors “told her to return to the suite #2806 to explain to Strauss-Kahn what he had done and recover her composure.”

The hypothesis the encounter consisted of consensual paid sex gone wrong was again brought up in August by Newsweek magazine. It cited sources close to Strauss-Kahn’s previous lawyer over whether the hotel maid had discovered that she was not going to be paid. This version  raises the possibility that Diallo returned to the hotel room after Strauss-Kahn’s departure, not because she was traumatized and disoriented, but to see if he had left any money.

In “France Soir,” journalist Michel Taubmann, close to DSK, affirms that the contact was consensual. “I am persuaded, according to the information that I’ve been able to collect through my own investigation of several sources, that DSK had had a consensual relation with this maid, a relation that had lasted only a few minutes– six minutes, according to the timeline constructed by the American journalist Edward J. Epstein– but at no point did the contact become violent.”

Q: Did DSK phone his daughter while the hotel maid was in the room?

A: According to Newsweek magazine – citing a source with knowledge of the of DSK’s telephone conversations – he telephoned his daughter at 12:15. That would be nine minutes after the Sofitel maid opened the door. The magazine suggests that this call could be important if it provides the defense with a clear timeline about their version of the encounter.

Q: Does  medical evidence prove that a rape occurred?

A: Diallo told the authorities that DSK forced her to perform fellatio. She recounts also that he had grabbed “the outer part of her vaginal zone.” On August 16, an article in “L’Express” cites the medical report established by the New York hospital after the aggression that concluded that she had “injuries caused by rape.”

“This report is not a medical conclusion,” explains Matthew Galluzzo, a prosecutor who dealt with sexual crimes. “If I fall off my bike and hit my head on the pavement and call the doctor telling him that someone hit me, he will write ‘cause: aggression’.” So “the injuries cited in the report do not prove that an assault took place,” according to John Clune, a lawyer who specializes in defending sexual-assault victims. Strauss-Kahn’s lawyers insist that the injuries cited in the reform could have happened in some sexual encounter at an earlier time.


By Nicolas Carter, Editorial Assistant at European Affairs