DSK Backlash Throws D.A.’s Office Off-Kilter

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Photo: Don Emmert/AFP/Getty Images

The Manhattan D.A.'s office is reeling in the wake of yesterday's explosive revelations that the New York hotel maid who accused former IMF managing director Dominique Strauss-Kahn of sexually assaulting her had repeatedly lied in testimony to authorities. With the credibility of the government's primary witness shaken, Mr. Strauss-Kahn, once a favorite in France's upcoming presidential elections, was released yesterday from house arrest by a Manhattan judge.

This major turn-around in what many said would be the linchpin case of Cyrus Vance Jr.'s eighteen-month-old tenure as D.A. has many insiders and outsiders chattering. In a long-ish article today, the New York Times highlights growing tensions between the D.A.'s office and the New York Police Department, one of its primary partners, and internal grumbling over Vance's micromanaging style and promotion of cases able to create buzz. Vance's aggressive restructuring of the office has even led to a cooling-off in the once-warm relationship between him and his predecessor, the legendary Robert Morgenthau, who was Manhattan D.A. some 35 years.

What's more, the DSK debacle comes just weeks after the much-publicized acquittal of two police officers accused of raping a young woman in her East Village apartment, a major embarrassment for the D.A.s' office, which had aggressively pursued the case. (Vance, in an interview with the Times, took pains to mention that his office handles upward of 100,000 cases a year.) Despite the volume, many blame Vance for the government's early assertions that its case against DSK was nearly rock-solid, including several people in his own office who pointed to Vance's arguably questionable decision to pull the case from the sex crimes unit.

Despite all the media speculation to the contrary, the DSK case isn't quite dead yet. Vance and his office may still be able to prove that the encounter in the Sofitel hotel suite between the former IMF managing director and the Guinean-born housekeeper was less than "consensual," as his lawyers are now arguing. But the initial momentum they had after DSK's arrest was first reported? Yep, all that's gone. From here on out, it's going to be a hard slog to the trial room.

Strauss-Kahn Case Adds to Doubts on N.Y. Prosecutor [NYT]
Related: The Politician, the Maid, and Presumptions of Guilt
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Sexual Assault Case Against Dominique Strauss-Kahn 'on the Verge of Collapse'
The DSK Files: Sorting Out the Evidence, Rumors, and Conspiracy Theories About Dominique Strauss-Kahn