Originally Published:Friday, July 1st 2011, 11:08 AM
Updated: Friday, July 1st 2011, 12:43 PM
A smiling Dominique Strauss-Kahn was freed with no bail Friday in a stunning reversal of fortune as prosecutors declined to drop attempted rape charges against the French bigwig.
The accused sexual predator, due back in court July 18, walked out of court with his biggest legal victory since his May 14 arrest for assaulting a midtown Manhattan hotel maid.
Strauss-Kahn held hands with his wife, who stood by him from the start, and flashed a smile while leaving the courtroom. He declined to address a media horde at the Manhattan courthouse.
"This is a giant step," said defense attorney Benjamin Brafman after his client's triumph. "The next step will lead to a complete dismissal of the charges."
With sources saying the case was collapsing amid a series of lies by the accuser, prosecutors acknowledged their witness had "substantial credibility issues."
But prosecutor Joan Illuzzi-Orbon said the case against the defendant would continue.
"The fact of a sexual encounter was and is corroborated by forensic evidence," she said.
The attorney for the Midtown hotel maid whose allegations were at the center of the high-profile case insisted his client was telling the truth.
"It is obvious that this woman made some mistakes, but that doesn't mean she is not a rape victim," said lawyer Ken Thompson.
"From day one, she has described a violent sexual assault that Dominique Strauss-Kahn committed against her," Thompson said. "She has described that sexual assault many times, to prosecutors and to me, and she has never once changed a single thing about that encounter."
He added that the woman planned to go public with her identity in the near future.
His $1 million cash bail and $5 million bond will be returned under a deal with prosecutors, and he is permitted to travel anywhere in the U.S under the agreement, said noted attorney Brafman.
Prosecutors held onto his passport, keeping Strauss-Kahn from returning to his homeland. The defendant and his wife share a home in Washington, D.C.
Asked if he felt vindicated, the accused sexual predator turned to face reporters but said nothing. Strauss-Kahn's wealthy wife had posted the huge payout to spring him from Rikers Island.
Strauss-Kahn wore a calm, almost serene look as he headed inside the courthouse with Sinclair and a security guard. He wore a black suit with a light blue tie.