Oh, to be white, wealthy and powerful. To inhabit, if only for a moment, the privileged bubble encasing Dominique Strauss-Kahn. I don’t know whether the geriatric sex machine got away with rape. But I do know this: The rich really do live differently than the rest of us.
The Manhattan District Attorney’s office moved today to dismiss rape charges against the one-time director of the International Monetary Fund, a sometime presidential candidate in France, and poster child for the American Association of Retired Persons campaign on “Safe Sex for Seniors.” Were just about anyone else pimping the halls of Manhattan’s luxury hotel suites, they’d be told to tell their tale to a jury.
But not DSK.
He’s got money. He’s got clout. And today, when the charges against him were dismissed, he got his freedom.
Prosecutors simply lost faith in the complaining witness in this case, 33-year-old housekeeper Nafissatou Diallo. They say she lied so often and so well they were no longer convinced by her. But there is no doubt that Ms. Diallo and DSK had a “hurried sexual encounter.” Just what that means is difficult to fathom. She has the look of an over-ripe tomato and he has the sex appeal of a suit case. Someone was on the make in this case. This was not love, or even lust, at first sight.
Ms. Diallo lied about a gang rape in her native Guyana. She has lied on tax forms. She’s sued DSK for money damages in court. She’s no savory little piece of peach pie. Many rape victims aren’t. The district attorney’s decision to drop this case suggests a new ethos among law enforcement in Manhattan: it’s open season on women with a checkered past. Only the privileged and the perfect can be raped, the rest are mere existential pin cushions.
Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance is, after all, himself little more than a child of privilege. The son of a former Democratic power broker and Secretary of State is not convincing in his efforts to play lawyer for the people, all of the people. The handling of the DSK case reeks of the manor.
Today I appeared in a pre-trial in a case in Connecticut. My client is accused of rape. He did not deny to police that there was a sexual encounter. Everyone had been drinking. There was a party. The complaining witness was more than willing to play in the parking lot one night. But when she got home that morning, her family had questions about where she had been. She answered them by crying rape. It is a classic he-said/she-said case. Yes, there are many reason’s to doubt the woman’s tale. She was drunk. She too has a past. Yet when I said “DSK” during a pre-trial today expecting the state to wet itself and run, I did not get such a response. A jury will have to decide my client’s case.
The testimony of a single witness is enough, if believed, to obtain a conviction. Juries are told that each and every day in this country in all sorts of cases. In New York, prosecutors applied the “reasonable prosecutor” standard and concluded that since they didn’t believe Ms. Diallo, a jury wouldn’t either. They want credit for doing justice, suggesting that each and every one of the other cases they prosecute bears the imprimatur of their personal belief. That’s just hog wash.
Dominique Strauss-Kahn caught a break. He too has a past. An accuser in France claims he raped her. Just where did that fit in the balance of equities the prosecution considered in this case?
I am a criminal defense lawyer, so I am happy the DSK case bit the dust. His lawyers did a great job. But I remain bitter because in this case class and race were destiny. Dominique Strauss-Kahn got country club justice. The rest of we niggers -- white and black -- have to settle for what we can get.
The DSK rape case should not have been filed. Indeed, prosecutors ought to exercise far more care in bringing single witness cases. But now that they’ve decided old white men can jump bones, perhaps it’s time to apply a more charitable standard to the thousands of other men out there facing evidence no more damning than that arrayed against DSK.
Someone please send Cyrus Vance Jr. back to suburbs. Or maybe give him a job in a bank somewhere. DSK will give him a glowing letter.