Monday, July 25, 2011

The Maid Tells Her Story

I never expected it to come to trial. The sociocultural abyss separating Dominique Strauss-Kahn and the poor Guinean maid was simply too vast. No one, certainly not I, expected this illiterate woman to stand up to the vicious cross-examination that has become a staple of rape trials.

Sad to say, she had too little to gain. He had too much to lose.

This was true even before the New York District Attorney discovered that the woman,  Nafissatou Diallo, had credibility problems. Apparently, she lied on her Visa application and was involved with some unsavory characters. Worse yet, a wiretapped telephone call seemed to show her wanting to profit from the situation.

This does not, I emphasize, mean that she was lying about what happened in the VIP suite of the Times Square Sofitel. It does mean that she would not be a very persuasive witness.

Again, the American criminal justice system is not about finding the truth and administering justice. It’s about what can be demonstrated beyond a reasonable doubt. When your complaining witness looks like a known liar who is in it for the money, your case has some very serious problems.

Once the DA had collected these new facts, he lowered DSK’s bail and released him from house arrest. Now, DSK is a man about New York, living the high life with his ever-faithful and supportive spouse.

That seems to put an end to one aspect of the story: DSK is not likely to be going to jail.

But that is only part of the story. As I write these words, another trial is taking place, a trial in the court of public opinion. There, a man like DSK is not threatened with incarceration, but with loss of reputation, with rejection and ostracism.

That is why a young woman named Tristane Banon described in lurid detail the time when DSK tried to rape her. And that is why Banon’s mother, a longtime colleague of DSK, spoke out about her own sexual encounter with the man. Consensual it was, very violent it was too.

Apparently, Gallic charm was not DSK’s strong suit.

This morning Nafissatou Diallo took the stand in the court of public opinoin.  She told her story, in disturbing detail, in the pages of Newsweek. There she offered her version of what happened at the Sofitel, and portrayed a man who is a violent sexual predator. No more, but no less.

I will not summarize it. Those who care enough to read through it will draw their own conclusions.

Given this article, and given Diallo’s appearances on television, it is now even less likely that the case will ever make it to a criminal court.

As the evidence accumulates, as the witness tells her story, as her story seems to correlate with the experiences of other women, DSK’s reputation looks to be destroyed. The talk of a political comeback has ceased. DSK is fast becoming a pariah.

All that remains is for France’s greatest pseudo-philosophe, Bernard-Henri Levy, to eat his words.

Those would be the words he wrote when the charges were first filed, when he rushed to defend a man he called a friend, a man in whom he had full and complete confidence.

If you choose to read through Diallo’s account, or Tristane Banon’s story of her attempted rape, weigh them against the self-righteous and pompous rhetoric of BHL: “And what I know even more is that the Strauss-Kahn I know, who has been my friend for 20 years and who will remain my friend, bears no resemblance to this monster, this caveman, this insatiable and malevolent beast now being described nearly everywhere. Charming, seductive, yes, certainly; a friend to women and, first of all, to his own woman, naturally, but this brutal and violent individual, this wild animal, this primate, obviously no, it’s absurd.

1 comment:

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