On Tuesday, Dominique Strauss-Kahn is set to reappear in court, where Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. is expected to drop all criminal charges against the former IMF managing director and onetime French presidential hopeful. And despite the several city and state elected officials, mostly from Harlem and the Bronx, pushing for Vance to pursue the case further, it looks like that is exactly what's set to happen. At least Kenneth Thompson, the lawyer for Nafissatou Diallo, the Sofitel maid accusing DSK of sexually assaulting her, seems to think so. Here he reacts to a request from the DA to meet with him and his client Monday night:
My interpretation of that letter is that they’re going to announce that they’re dismissing the case entirely, or some of the charges. If they were not going to dismiss the charges there would be no need to meet with her. They would just go to court the next day to say, ‘We’re going to proceed with the case.’
Even if the criminal charges are dropped, that is not necessarily it for DSK. While the criminal case has been in jeopardy ever since Diallo's credibility was first called into question several weeks ago, to keep the heat up she and her lawyers filed a vividly detailed civil suit earlier this month in the Bronx courts. Yet now The Wall Street Journal is reporting that Diallo's attorneys may actually be in talks with DSK's team over reaching a financial settlement in the civil case.
Though Thompson called the allegations "absolutely false," the serious questions raised about his client's credibility still pose a major stumbling block even for a civil case. (They have clearly proved near fatal for the criminal one.) While unlikely that both the criminal charges get dropped and a settlement is reached in the next few days, there remains a distinct possibility that come Tuesday, DSK's Stateside legal nightmare may be close to an end. Strange to think we may soon be bidding our adieus to one of the most tumultuous scandals of the year, as DSK and wife Anne Sinclair (the subject of a recent New York feature) board an Air France flight to Paris. Though the saga will likely continue across the Atlantic, where French authorities are still investigating journalist Tristane Banon's sexual assault allegations against DSK, and where some still think he may throw his name into a decidedly unglamorous slate of Socialist presidential candidates. Not conclusive in any way, but all the same surprising, 57 percent in a French online poll recently said they thought DSK could still beat sitting president Nicolas Sarkozy.
All of which would turn the spotlight back on Cyrus Vance Jr., whose position as district attorney has seemed increasingly precarious as the DSK case has dragged on. His decision is sure to be a difficult one, since deciding to proceed with the case would mean several more months during which additional revelations and press coverage could turn the narrative still further against him, always with the possibility of ultimately losing the case. As for his reelection prospects, the Times spoke to several lawyers and political observers who said Vance needs to clearly explain his actions in the DSK case and, more important, avoid other embarrassing instances of overreach.
And so now we wait.