DSK Rape Charges Dismissed: Justice Or Tragedy?
In the midst of earthquakes and hurricanes last week, it was easy to miss another story in New York: the dismissal of rape charges against Dominique Strauss-Kahn. Just as the media recklessly judged Strauss-Kahn before any evidence was presented, it has now viciously turned on the accuser, labeling her a “fraud.” Regardless of what actually happened in that hotel room, this story has confirmed the worst fears of rape victims everywhere: that they are better off keeping their mouths shut.
Manhattan DA Cyrus Vance, Jr. dropped the charges over the reliability of Nafissatou Diallo, the hotel maid accusing the French banker of sexual assault. Unfortunately, Ms. Diallo seems to have given the prosecution lots of reasons to doubt her. She has now admitted to lying repeatedly, on immigration documents and about past rapes. Her accounts of the night of the alleged assault have been inconsistent and conflicting. Physical evidence (including semen found in the hotel room and on Diallo’s uniform) did prove that, in Vance’s words, “[Strauss-Kahn] engaged in a hurried sexual encounter with [Diallo]”. But with no further evidence and no witnesses, the nature of that encounter would be determined entirely by Diallo’s credibility.
This may not be the right case for grand statements and judgements. It’s too messy and too unclear. Many experts agree that Vance made the right legal decision.
But there is something outrageous about a woman being denied the chance to criminally prosecute an accused rapist because of perception. Everyone has told lies or done ugly things, and this case reaffirms that these unfortunate acts may haunt a person in their most vulnerable hour.
As thousands of freshman begin college this week, many will have orientations that discuss rape. With critics dismissing these anti-rape efforts as “brainwashing,” I worry that young women in crisis will indeed begin to think not about the truth of their situation, but how it will appear. And I worry that anyone who has led a less-than-angelic life will have to think twice before standing up for what is right.
What do you think? Did the system rightly protect a man from weak accusations, or was Nafissatou Diallo denied justice?