Sunday, July 3, 2011

Daly: Hotel maid who accused DSK of sexual assault is a shining example of justice system at work

Michael Daly

Sunday, July 3rd 2011, 4:00 AM

Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance speaks after Strauss-Kahn was released on July 1.
Mario Tama/Getty
Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance speaks after Strauss-Kahn was released on July 1.

Maybe she thought America is the land of lies.

She might well be back in her native Guinea had she not come here with a fraudulent visa and lied to get political asylum, saying that she had been beaten and raped by soldiers, and that her husband had been tortured to death.

Once settled in the Bronx with her daughter, she lied about her income to stay in subsidized housing.

She also lied about having a second child to get a tax break.

And she likely would have been able to keep living those lies had she not encountered Dominique Strauss-Kahn while working as a chambermaid in suite 2806 at the Sofitel hotel.

The detectives believed her when she told them Strauss-Kahn had sexually assaulted her.

So did an assistant district attorney.

And there was forensic evidence that seemed to back her up.

Even so, the head of the sex crimes unit had not been able to interview the victim and recommended waiting at least another two days before presenting the case to a grand jury.

The image-conscious higher-ups at the Manhattan District Attorney's office instructed otherwise.

To wait was to risk being seen to waver.

So, the case went to the grand jury two days before the legal deadline.

The woman began by taking an oath to tell only the truth.

The grand jurors believed her and Strauss-Kahn was indicted.

By then, she had telephoned a male friend who was being held in an immigration lockup in Arizona after a bust for trading counterfeit fashion items for pot.

She is said to have reassured her friend, saying something like, "Don't worry, I know what I'm doing."

Only she didn't, because America is ultimately a land of truth.

Sure we have crooks and hustlers and spinmasters, but when it gets down to it, we are about truth.

When it says "In God We Trust" on the courtroom wall, it really means "In Truth We Trust."

This is never more so than when somebody faces losing their liberty.

The whole criminal justice system is predicated on the principle that it is better the guilty go free than the innocent go to jail.

This meant the investigators at the district attorney's office went where the truth took them, even as it began to undermine the case.

The result was Friday's hearing. As I sat in the courtroom there seemed to be a particular American beauty to the proceedings.

The hearing was not convened because of anything the defense had unearthed.

The unearthing had been done by the prosecution and the findings were summarized in a three-page letter that became part of the public record.

Even as it recounted her lies, the fact that the letter had been written by the district attorney's office constituted proof that we are indeed a land of truth.

The complainant's attorney, Kenneth Thompson, offers explanations for her numerous lies. He is an uncommonly decent guy who began life in a Harlem housing project and is the son of a retired cop renowned for her fairness. I hope his client is not also lying to him.

There remains the fact that Strauss-Kahn's semen was recovered from the woman's clothing. Even the defense does not deny that a sexual encounter of some kind occurred, but the complainant's lies certainly do not make it any easier to prove anything beyond a reasonable doubt.

However it ends, there was the hearing just before the Fourth of July weekend that demonstrated anew we are a land of truth.

How right we are to celebrate America's birthday with fireworks and cheers.

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