No plans to drop Strauss-Kahn charges, no plea deal: source

Reuters News
Posted: Jul 07, 2011 7:38 PM

WASHINGTON/NEW YORK (Reuters) - New York prosecutors have no current plans to drop charges against former International Monetary Fund Chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn and they sought no plea deal at a meeting on Wednesday with his defense lawyers, a person close to the case said.

The Manhattan district attorney's office indicated that prosecutors wanted at least two or three more weeks to investigate Strauss-Kahn and his accuser, and there was "no expectation" that they would drop the sexual assault charges, the source who is familiar with the discussions told Reuters.

There was "no plea deal on the table" during the Wednesday discussions, the source added.

On May 14, the day of the alleged assault, the accuser was working as a maid at the Times Square Sofitel. She told investigators Strauss-Kahn violently attacked and attempted to rape her as she entered his luxury suite to clean it.

But her credibility was thrown into question last week when prosecutors advised Strauss-Kahn's lawyers in writing that they had reason to believe she had told authorities numerous lies, including lies about a previous alleged rape and about what happened following the alleged assault.

The person familiar with Wednesday's discussions between defense and prosecution lawyers told Reuters that while Strauss-Kahn and his team feel the "tide has turned" in their favor, Strauss-Kahn's lawyers were not assuming the case is over.

The source said there is increasing suspicion on Strauss-Kahn's side that his accuser targeted the Frenchman for some kind of scheme because his picture had been posted by Sofitel management in a maid's staging room to notify staff that a VIP was on the premises.

While investigating her story and background, prosecutors reportedly turned up a recorded conversation between the accuser and a male friend detained in an Arizona jail, in which the woman allegedly said something to the effect that she knew what she was doing and that Strauss-Kahn was someone with a lot of money.

Defense lawyers did not respond on Thursday to requests for comments on the latest developments in the case. Prosecutors said they had no update on the case. On Wednesday, they had said they were still investigating.

Ronald Kuby, a prominent New York criminal defense lawyer, said he was not surprised that Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. is not yet ready to close the case.

"First, having rushed to judgment once, declaring the maid to be a woman of sterling and unimpeachable character who provided a gripping and dramatic story of predation by a foreigner, he may have wanted a decent interval before he makes the complete opposite set of assertions. That would be prudent," Kuby said.

But he also suggested that Vance might be "trying to extract some admission of wrongdoing from DSK before he allows the man to go on with his life. "I think Vance thinks that will salvage something of his reputation."

Kuby added, nonetheless, that he was "certain that this case cannot go to trial." Most sex cases are hard to try, and this one is made ever harder because of a number of credibility issues for the alleged victim, he said.

(Reporting by Mark Hosenball and Noeleen Walder; Editing Stella Dawson)