Following revelations about his accuser's past, Dominique Strauss-Kahn was released without bail at a court hearing today. However, prosecutors could still bring charges against him.
According to the Guardian, a judge in today's brief hearing released Strauss-Kahn on his own recognizance, "a term used when the defendant is released but promises to attend all court proceedings and not to engage in any illegal activity or prohibited conduct." This means he won't have to remain under house arrest in his pricey TriBeCa apartment, but he also can't yet return to France. The prosecution says it is reassessing in light of new information about the accuser's potential connections to drug dealers — "The case has been affected but we are not dismissing the case."
Some have speculated that the charges against DSK could eventually be reduced to a misdemeanor, which sends a confusing message — did Strauss-Kahn sort of assault someone? Is assaulting a perfect victim a felony, while assaulting a woman who may have been connected to criminals, and who also sometimes drank alcohol, is something less? If Strauss-Kahn is actually innocent, what would the misdemeanor charges be for?
Above all, the key question about the new developments in the Strauss-Kahn case is this: do prosecutors think the accuser was actually lying about her assault, or do they simply believe that the details about her past irrevocably discredit her in the eyes of a potential jury? There's some evidence that it's the latter — prosecutor Joan Illuzzi-Orbon reportedly told the court that the short amount of time DSK and the maids spent in the hotel room together "strongly suggests something other than a consensual act." And even the most damning piece of evidence against the accuser — that she talked on the phone to a man the day after the alleged assault about "the possible benefits of pursuing the charges" against DSK — doesn't prove she wasn't assaulted. The accuser's lawyer is now saying she will come forward to publicly discuss what happened, so we may know more soon. But her case may end up being decided not on what happened in the hotel room, but on things she's done outside of it.
Update: In a letter, Illuzzi-Orbon clarifies some of the new information about the accuser — she has admitted to lying in her application for asylum in the United States, and for describing a gang rape in Guinea that never occurred. However, she says she was raped in Guinea — just not in the way she described.
Dominique Strauss-Kahn In Court –- Live Coverage [Guardian News Blog]
5 Ways To Think About The Times' Strauss-Kahn Story [The Atlantic]
Alleged DSK Rape Victim Knows Bad People And Also Drinks! [The Awl]