Former International Monetary Fund(IMF) boss, Dominique Strauss-Khan has won a psychological victory having regained his temporary freedom following a twist in the case of rape brought against him in a New York court.
Mr Strauss-Khan was all smiles, regaining his confidence and his body language exhibiting that of a victorious war fighter, having regained a temporary freedom as the court reversed all his court bail demands.
Khan’s temporary freedom left his accusers and prosecutors aghast with consternation as the former IMF boss, donning a white shirt and baby blue tie beamed with life like looking like already retracing his super celebrity status back to line.
New York prosecutors and lawyers for the 32-year-old hotel maid however continue to allege that he tried to rape the hotel maid.
Sixty two year old Khan had been criminalised, placed under house arrest and humiliatingly deprived his erstwhile posh life style and countenance, being under the watchful eyes of armed guard in a Manhattan townhouse.
He had been brought down so headlong to a street criminal level, being made to wear electronic tag and had on several occasions fought back tears as he remained shell-shocked because of his met out street -tout treatment by security agencies.
He has once again tasted fresh air, with the $1 million (£620,000) cash bail and $5 million (£3.1 million) bond put up by his wife, the wealthy heiress Anne Sinclair, were returned.
Joan Illuzzi-Orbon, an assistant district attorney, told the court that “the fact of a sexual encounter” between the pair, after the maid arrived to clean suite 2086 of the Manhattan Sofitel on May 14, “was and is corroborated by the forensic evidence”.
Mr Strauss-Kahn however remains charged with forcing the woman to give him oral sex after trying to rape her, before fleeing and being arrested aboard a flight on the tarmac of JFK airport, minutes away from take-off for Paris.
The French Socialist, who had been expected to stand against Nicolas Sarkozy for the French presidency in 2012, was forced to resign as head of the International Monetary fund five days later, his career apparently in tatters.
However, “substantial credibility issues” have been found with the maid, according to Ms Illuzzi-Orbon in the court following a “comprehensive and thorough investigation of all aspects of this case, including the background of the complainant and her various statements about the incident”.
The case has experience a dangerous crack, indicating the case may crumble eventually.
A filing to the court confirmed extraordinary overnight leaks to the media, stating that the Guinean single mother had admitted lying on her application for asylum in the US in 2004, lying about previously being raped and also on her income tax returns.
Reports said she was also recorded speaking on the telephone about “potential benefits” of pressing charges against Mr Strauss-Kahn and another man being held for possession of 400lb of marijuana, and that she had $100,000 (£62,000) of mysterious cash deposits in her bank account.
But perhaps most crucially, having repeatedly claimed that after the alleged attack “she fled to an area of the main hallway” of the Sofitel and hid until Mr Strauss-Kahn left his suite, she now admits she “proceeded to clean a nearby room” before reporting the incident to her supervisor, the filing said.
“All of this has caused us to reassess the position that we have advanced to this court about the strength of the case,” Ms Illuzzi-Orbon told Judge Michael Obus in a booming, rapid-fire New York accent. But “we are not moving to dismiss the case,” she said, adding: “at this time.”
Granting a request by Mr Strauss-Kahn’s attorneys for his release, Judge Obus told him:
“In light of recent developments, the risk that you will not be here appears to have receded quite a bit”.
His passport was retained, ensuring he could not flee to France, which does not extradite its citizens. But he will be free to return to his house in Washington, DC.
“Of course, the case is not over,” added the judge, telling the former IMF chief to return for a July 18 hearing. “There will be no rush to judgment. The people will continue to investigate and re-examine the matter as appropriate.”
But many in and outside court believed that this mortally wounded case – whose own prosecutors were rushing to denounce it almost as quickly as Mr Strauss-Kahn’s lawyers – may well not even limp on that far.
Outside the court, Cyrus Vance junior, the politically ambitious Manhattan district attorney who faces intense humiliation if the case collapses, said: “Our judicial system seeks to ensure fairness and justice for both victims and defendants.
“As prosecutors, our duty is to do whatever is right, in every case, without fear or favor, wherever that leads. The disclosures we made that led to today’s proceeding reflect that principle,” he said.
Also at the podium in the midday sunshine, Benjamin Brafman, Mr Strauss-Kahn’s lead lawyer, said: “On the eve of independence day we get to celebrate for Mr Strauss Kahn and his family a bit of personal independence.
“We believed from the beginning that this case was not what it appeared to be,” he said. “We are absolutely convinced that while today is a first giant step in the right direction, the next step will lead to a complete dismissal of the charges”.
But the day’s most dramatic speech was made by Kenneth Thompson, lead attorney for the maid, who gave an impassioned 30-minute restatement of her allegations. “The only defence that Dominique Strauss-Kahn has is that this sexual encounter was consensual,” he said. “That is a lie”.
“From day one, she has described a violent sexual assault that Dominique Strauss-Kahn committed against her,” said Mr Thompson, who seemed keen to ease his own guilt for alerting prosecutors to inconsistencies in the maid’s back-story before leaving her with them and travelling out of the city.
“She has described that sexual assault many times, to prosecutors and to me, and she has never once changed a single thing about that encounter.” In blunt detail, Mr Thompson claimed prosecutors had photographs of bruises on the maid’s crotch that were inflicted by Mr Strauss-Kahn.
He had also torn a ligament in the woman’s shoulder and ripped her stockings, Mr Thompson said. “After he finished, she got up and started to run to the door and started spitting Dominique Strauss-Kahn’s semen out of her mouth in disgust all over that hotel room”.
The maid’s lawyer conceded she had “hyped up” her asylum application, but insisted that she was indeed a victim of rape – and genital mutilation – in Africa. He said that she had continued cleaning on May 14 because “she did not want to lose her job”.
“This woman made some mistakes, but that doesn’t mean she’s not a rape victim,” he said. “She told me ‘I will go to my grave knowing what this man did to me. I have nothing left now. I am going to come out and tell the world what Dominique Strauss-Kahn did to me’.”
It appeared increasingly likely on Friday that – in court at least – she may never get the chance.
As he left the frenzied atmosphere of the packed Manhattan courtroom, his arm draped on his wife’s shoulder, Mr Strauss-Kahn looked as if a large weight had been lifted off his shoulders.
His $1 million bail and $5 million bond will now be returned and he is free to travel anywhere in the United States, though authorities will keep his passport, pending possible trial.
The restrictive bail conditions – including wearing an ankle monitor, limited outings and being confined to a Lower Manhattan townhouse under the watch of armed guards – were also lifted.