On his last night of townhouse arrest, Dominique Strauss-Kahn seemed to be sleeping soundly. At midnight, an hour after the bombshell dropped — the prosecution’s own investigators had uncovered evidence that the woman who accused him of sexual assault was not a credible witness — the Tribeca residence was quiet, and the lights seemed to be shut off for the night, if you looked carefully behind the curtains.
What an odd little house he was living in, almost like a dollhouse in proportion to the rest of Franklin’s cobblestone street of classic cast-iron Tribeca buildings, with their majestic lobby overhangs and skylit lofts with vaunted ceilings.
Outside, it was a happening. A group of reporters, carrying heavy bags of cameras still with luggage tags from Charles de Gaulle, began to gather on the street, setting up tripods for live shots to be beamed quickly to Europe — it was almost morning there, and this would be all that anyone could talk about. One reporter claimed that the victim is about to be arrested for perjury. Another said that even if things go well for Strauss-Kahn tomorrow in court: “They’re not going to let him out of New York. The guy’s got more money than God! He’d end up in the French Antibes and say fuck you.”
French tourists walked by every ten minutes or so, remarking at the appearance of the home and taking pictures of it with their iPhones. A French-Vietnamese tourist, an accountant with a small nose ring, even expresseed hope that DSK might still be able to run for president. “Fine, there’s already been a primary for the Socialist party, but this is an exceptional situation,” she says. Some of the tourists are disappointed about the new news in the case—they seem to be right-wingers.
When morning broke, Justice Michael Obus released DSK on his own recognizance. Prosecutors, who wrote a letter to the judge and DSK’s lawyers detailing inconsistencies and outright lies by the woman who accused him, did not object. As the sand is shifting, there doesn’t seem to be much consensus about what’s going to happen next for French politics, DSK, the victim, or anyone else involved in the case — is it even possible that the victim, who had recently requested a transfer to clearn the Sofitel’s luxe level, had planned a con? — everyone here agrees that there is one thing that’s clear. Starting tomorrow, the person on trial is no longer going to be Dominique Strauss-Kahn. It’s going to be the American media, and New York’s in particular — our new Bonfire of the Vanities. In our haste to defend a downtrodden, exploited immigrant maid, we may have been too quick to slake our own thirst for vengeance
There are some people here tonight, as well, who think the future of the case is more certain. A reporter from the AFP in spotless white Converse shakes his head. “It’s over,” he says. “The prosecution told us the victim was a poor woman, a good woman, a Virgin Mary, and now much, much later, they change the story.” He shakes his head. “And in America, I think the profile of the woman is very important — especially when we are talking about sex.”
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