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Prosecutors drop sexual assault charges against Strauss-Kahn

Late last month, we wrote that the criminal case against Dominique Strauss-Kahn (DSK) was unraveling quickly. At that time, there were rumors that the charges would eventually be dropped. In May, Strauss-Kahn had been arrested and charged with the attempted rape of a maid who worked at the hotel where he was staying.

Last week, the rumors about the prosecution's case turned out to be true. In a rare move, prosecutors went before a judge and requested that all criminal charges against Strauss-Kahn be dropped.

From the beginning, DSK's attorney never denied that a sexual encounter had occurred. There was DNA evidence to prove that. However, at issue was whether or not it was consensual. Strauss-Kahn's attorney recently said: "This encounter was quick, it was consensual and she was a willing participant."

The prosecution felt they were unable to prove lack of consent. This was especially difficult because the 32-year-old woman who accused Strauss-Kahn is physically larger than he is. Therefore, the case would have hinged on the accuser's credibility, which was not very strong. Prosecutors said: "If we do not believe her beyond a reasonable doubt, we cannot ask a jury to do so."

A lawyer for the alleged victim said that because Strauss-Kahn is a famous man, a different standard was used and that the case would have gone forward if the defendant had a regular profession such as construction work.

Sadly, he was right, but this is more of an indictment of the prosecution than the defense. If there is insufficient evidence in any criminal case, the charges ought to be dropped. Unfortunately, rape is one of the easiest accusations to make and among the most difficult to defend.

As we wrote in our last post on the subject, rape defendants who are not famous often have more to lose from false accusations than famous defendants do. If Strauss-Kahn had not had the financial resources or the clout to fight these allegations, the case could very well have gone to trial and resulted in a conviction.

Source: Thomson Reuters Westlaw News, "Strauss-Kahn criminal sexual assault case dropped," Joseph Ax and Daniel Trotta, Aug. 23, 2011

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