A New York judge has dismissed the criminal charges against Dominique Strauss-Kahn. For the French, this may mean relief. And for everyone, it means more confusion.
Judge Michael Obus has dismissed the charges pending an appeal into his decision not to hire a special prosecutor — Nafissatou Diallo's lawyers have 30 days to appeal. According to the New York Daily News, many in France are psyched that DSK's legal rollercoaster is (mostly) over. Watchers of the case will recall that while some French opinionators rushed to Strauss-Kahn's defense immediately after his arrest, the case later brought increased attention to the problem of sexual harassment in France. Now the pendulum seems to be swinging back in the other direction. The Daily News quotes 28-year-old Parisian Juliette Assemekang: "It's good it's finished. It was ugly. It was a lot of noise for nothing." And Anne-Valerie Soler continues the tradition of speculating on the case based on no evidence:
It wasn't clear that (Diallo) was a victim. She wasn't too innocent. Something happened and she is profiting from it. I thought he was guilty but not that guilty.
"Guilty but not that guilty" is a common analysis of Strauss-Kahn's situation, one that may be bolstered by the New York prosecutors' recent statement that "the nature and number of the complainant's falsehoods leave us unable to credit her version of events beyond a reasonable doubt, whatever the truth may be about the encounter between the complainant and the defendant." Ongoing legal battles after the criminal case's dismissal may help to keep the "guilty but not that guilty" theory alive — in addition to the potential appeal, Nafissatou Diallo's civil suit against Strauss-Kahn is still going forward, and the Daily Mail claims Diallo could also testify in France in a witness tampering case associated with her assault charges.
If Strauss-Kahn can sway the French people over to the "not that guilty" side, he could even re-enter politics. Political science professor James Cohen says, "If the left wing wins the presidential elections and he's managed to reintroduce him[self] to the French public, he could conceivably be named minister of something." And a woman named Marie says,
We have a political desert right now in France. People want to return to the Socialists but there is nobody with charisma. If it's him against Sarkozy, I'll vote for him.
Even after extremely graphic sexual assault accusations against him, Strauss-Kahn still looks charismatic to some. This could be due to an overstatement of the inconsistencies in Diallo's account, or to lingering goodwill toward DSK in France. In any event, all the confusion around the case sets a dangerous precedent — many seem to believe it's possible for someone to be a little bit guilty of rape, and still more than a little qualified to be a political leader. The lack of hard facts has left the story of DSK irrevocably clouded — and those clouds may well blow over other rape cases in years to come.
French Relieved Dominique Strauss-Kahn Drama Is Nearly Over: 'It Was A Lot Of Noise For Nothing' [NY Daily News]
Frame The Victim [Slate]
Sensational Twist In DSK Case As Nafissatou Diallo Prepares To Testify Against Him In France On Witness Tampering Allegations [Daily Mail]