As the investigation proceeded in recent weeks, Illuzzi-Orbon said, there had been “salient, confirmed impeachment” of the woman’s story — from a concocted tale of political repression and gang rape in Guinea that was used to gain political asylum in the United States in 2004 to her shifting account of what happened on the day of the alleged attack.
Prosecutors say they still believe a “sexual encounter” occurred between the two, something “corroborated by forensic evidence” collected after Strauss-Kahn, 62, was arrested, Illuzzi-Orbon said in prepared remarks submitted to the court.
But the difficulty of supporting a rape charge without credible testimony from the woman involved led prosecutors to agree that Strauss-Kahn should be released from the house arrest, electronic monitoring and armed guard that have governed his movements since he was indicted by a grand jury. His $1 million cash bail is being returned.
“The strength of the case has been affected by the substantial credibility issues relating to the complaining witness,” Illuzzi-Orbon said.
For now the charges — violent sexual felonies with a possible 25-year prison term as punishment — remain intact, and authorities are holding on to Strauss-Kahn’s passport so he cannot leave the United States. The next court session is scheduled for July 18.
The attorney for the hotel maid, Kenneth Thompson, lashed out at the district attorney’s decision to release Strauss-Kahn. While acknowledging that his client erred in lying to prosecutors, he said that had no bearing on whether she was raped.
“The victim here made some mistakes,” he said. “That does not mean she is not a rape victim.”
Thompson said there were photos, medical tests and other evidence of a forced sexual encounter, including vaginal bruising and a torn ligament in the woman’s shoulder.
He said his client may now talk publicly about her version of events because “we do not have confidence that they will ever put Dominique Strauss-Kahn on trial. . . . [New York District Attorney] Cyrus Vance is too afraid to try this case. He is afraid he is going to lose.”
From the moment Strauss-Kahn was pulled off of an Air France jet headed for Europe and taken into police custody, his arrest rippled through international economic and political circles.
He and his wife, Anne Sinclair, a longtime French television journalist, are among Europe’s political and intellectual elite, with family ties to the continent’s top artists, intellectuals and financiers. His long-standing reputation as a womanizer mattered little in French society, and the arrest touched off a transatlantic debate that pitted European sexual mores against the “perp walk” culture of American law enforcement. Some in France were outraged at the pictures of one of their country’s top politicians paraded in handcuffs before television cameras — images prohibited under French media rules until a person is convicted.