Former IMF head free after judge dismisses sex case

Wednesday, August 24, 2011
Dominique Strauss-Kahn leaves Manhattan State Supreme court with his wife Anne Sinclair, Tuesday, Aug. 23, 2011, in New York. A New York judge dismissed the sexual assault case against Strauss-Kahn, but the order is on hold until an appeals court rules on his accuser's request for a special prosecutor. (AP Photo/Louis Lanzano)

NEW YORK -- Dominique Strauss-Kahn became a free man Tuesday when a judge ended the sexual assault case against him at the request of prosecutors, who said the hotel maid who accused the former International Monetary Fund chief couldn't be trusted.

Though evidence showed Strauss-Kahn had a sexual encounter with Nafissatou Diallo in his hotel suite more than three months ago, prosecutors said the accuser was not credible because of lies she has told, including an earlier false rape claim.

State Supreme Court Justice Michael Obus said he would dismiss the case, but there was one more legal twist to get through: He first wanted an appeals court to hear a request from Diallo's attorneys to keep the case alive by appointing a special prosecutor.

The criminal case ended about two hours later, when the higher court agreed with Obus that there was no legal basis for removing the district attorney from the case.

The case drew global attention and left both the accuser and the accused -- a one-time contender for the French presidency -- with tattered reputations.

Strauss-Kahn arrived at court in a six-car motorcade and was greeted by protesters wielding signs carrying such messages as "DSK treats women like property" and "Put the rapist on trial -- not the victim."

The shouting could be heard inside the courtroom.

He appeared resolute inside. He smiled and shook hands with his biographer as his wife, journalist Anne Sinclair, sat nearby.

The couple left court without speaking to reporters, but Strauss-Kahn later issued a statement describing the case as "a nightmare for me and my family."

Later, Strauss-Kahn appeared outside the posh Tribeca townhouse where he was held under house arrest until July -- when prosecutors first publicly admitted they had doubts about the maid's credibility. He summed up the statement in French and was mobbed by reporters.

Diallo, from the West African nation of Guinea, claimed that the 62-year-old diplomat chased her down, grabbed her crotch and forced her to perform oral sex when she arrived to clean his luxury suite May 14.

He was charged with a criminal sex act, attempted rape and sexual abuse, and was jailed for nearly a week before being released on $1 million bail under pricey house arrest.

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