Don’t fall over in surprise, but S-K’s accuser’s credibility is in question

It’s in most newspapers, but the NY Times seems to be a main source.  Here’s the beginning of what they say:

Dominique Strauss-Kahn was released from house arrest on Friday as the sexual assault case against him moved one step closer to dismissal after prosecutors told a Manhattan judge that they had serious problems with the case.

Prosecutors acknowledged that there were significant credibility issues with the hotel housekeeper who accused Mr. Strauss-Kahn of trying to rape her in May. In a brief hearing at State Supreme Court in Manhattan, prosecutors did not oppose his release; the judge then freed Mr. Strauss-Kahn on his own recognizance.

The problems with the accuser do not seem to be precisely with her report of the attempted rape.  Rather, there are discrepancies between what she has said recently and what she said in her request for asylum.  Further, she’s got some connection with what appears to be quite shady business; among other things, someone has deposited $100,000 in her bank account over the last year.  Finally, she also had a conversation with someone in jail about the benefits of pursuing her claim against SK; that conversation got recorded.  This last doesn’t seem to bear on credibility, but it does not look too good apparently.

The problem is that the prosecutors do not think they can get any conviction if the accuser has such credibility problems.  That seems believable to me.  The lesson here seems clear:  if you think you’ll get raped and want to bring a case about it to trial, try to live a blameless life. 

Perhaps at least this will lead to some soul-searching about rape and the courts.

30 thoughts on “Don’t fall over in surprise, but S-K’s accuser’s credibility is in question

  1. There are lots of problems here. One of the problems with the housekeeper’s credibility is that she lied about being gang-raped in Guinea on her asylum application. Not exactly a good thing if you are accusing someone of rape. On the other side, the prosecutor’s office clearly did not make sure that their case was strong. Instead they went ahead in a very public way. If there was indeed a sexual assault (and there seems to have been a sexual encounter, the most plausible explanation of which would be coercive), they could have taken their time, gotten a sealed endictment and arrested DSK on his inevitable return (as head of the IMF) to NYC. A total mess.

  2. Do you think someone connected with the International Monetary Fund might have been able to put $100,000 into someone’s bank account? Given the power and resources available to the accused, I would not be surprised at anything that turns up to discredit this woman. I note that then have not produced anything to cast doubt on the actual rape. It is the definition of injustice to avoid a conviction based on the unworthy character of the victim and the high status of the criminal.

  3. Do you think someone connected with the International Monetary Fund might have been able to put $100,000 into someone’s bank account?

    Well, in the sense that, if you have access to the account, you can make a deposit for anyone, they could, but what is claimed is that various known people made deposits _over the last two years_ (that is, long, long before any of this happened) that _totaled_ “more than $100,000”. So, it seems to have been several much smaller deposits, of the sort that you might do if you were laundering money for a drug dealer. It seems that at least one of the people making the deposits was a drug dealer. So, it seems pretty unlikely that this is part of some post-hoc conspiracy to discredit her, or part of a set-up intern to the IMF for DSK. More centrally, in _any_ case that turns on witness testimony, one of the first things parties (on either side) will try to do is to impeach the witness. This is absolutely standard. It would happen in a trial about a car accident just as well. Here, from what I can gather from news reports, the case turned almost entirely on the woman’s testimony. But, she has apparently told many untrue things to the investigators.* This would come out in court, and, if her testimony really is all the evidence, it would make the case almost impossible to win. This would be so for nearly any other sort of case, too, given similar circumstances on the type of evidence and the testimony. So, it is arguably a bad situation all around, no matter what happened, but one that doesn’t need deep or sinister explanation.

    I should note that, assuming for the moment that she’s not lying about the whole thing, I can understand the woman’s behavior and while it would be unfortunate, it might not necessarily be blameworthy. It can be hard to know what to tell the police, especially if you have friends involved in illegal activities, as seems to be the case here. But, lying to investigators tends to make one’s testimony of much less use. I don’t see how to get around that.
    (On the asylum application issue, the NY Times reports that she told investigators that her asylum application mentioned being raped, but it actually did not. I have worked on many asylum cases- it’s one of my areas of expertise- and it seems perfectly possible to me that this was just a mistake on her part. Asylum applications have to be set up to fit into existing categories and case-law. Often that means focusing on parts of an experience that best fits the law but isn’t central to the applicant’s own experience. So, it seems to me completely believable that there was a rape involved in the events leading to her applying for asylum, but that this wasn’t put in the application because it was not seen as relevant for the legal grounds, and that she might not have fully understood or even known this. But, taken with the other cases, it still hurts her credibility as a witness.)

  4. JJ, one of the problems IS with her report of the alleged attempted rape. According to the prosecutors, she has now admitted lying to the grand jury – i.e. the same grand jury that later handed down the indictment – at least about what happened in between the time of the encounter and the time she reported it (it now appears she continued about her business cleaning nearby rooms).

    I think you’re right about one of the lessons here, but it’s not specific to rape. If you think you might ever be in a situation where the vindication of your rights, or the rights of someone else you care about, could depend on the unimpeachability of your legal testimony, then you’re better off not accumulating examples of less than honest conduct. I suppose the applicability of that is so general and obvious that it almost goes without saying, though.

  5. If the situation is in fact anything like that represented here:

    http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2011/07/01/nyregion/20110701-Strauss-Kahn-letter.html?ref=global-home

    I can see no way how they could go on with the case. Once a witness, the only witness, admits to lying to the grand jury that issued the indictment, among many other instances, the case is dead and likely should be. (She may have more problems now that she has apparently admitted to filing a fraudulent asylum application, too. That’s quite a bit different from the small bit suggested by the NY times story I’d read earlier. Unfortunately, such canned stories, which can be bought, are not wildly uncommon, and it’s not that unusual, working as an immigration attorney, to hear exactly the same one from several people.)

  6. “The problems with the accuser do not seem to be precisely with her report of the attempted rape.”

    The linked NYT story is unfortunately unclear about this. However, the DA’s letter to the defense makes it clear that there are also problems with her account of the incident itself, as Nemo notes. The DA writes of her account of the aftermath of the alleged assault: “In the weeks following the incident charged in the indictment, the complainant told detectives and assistant district attorneys on numerous occasions that, after being sexually assaulted by the defendant on May 14, 2011 in Suite 2806, she fled to an area of the main hallway of the hotel’s 28th floor and waited there until she observed the defendant leave Suite 2806 and the 28th floor by entering an elevator. It was after this observation that she reported the incident to her supervisor, who arrived on the 28th floor a short time later. In the interim between the incident and her supervisor’s arrival, she claimed to have remained in the same area of the main hallway on the 28th floor to which she had initially fled. The complainant testified to this version of events when questioned in the Grand jury about her actions following the incident in Suite 2806. The complainant has since admitted that this account was false and that after the incident in Suite 2806, she proceeded to clean a nearby room and then returned to Suite 2806 and began to clean that suite before she reported the incident to her supervisor.”

    With respect to the discrepancy in her account of the rape supposedly reported in her asylum application, the DA writes: “Additionally, in two separate interviews with assistant district attorneys assigned to the case, the complainant stated that she had been the victim of a gang rape in the past in her native country and provided details of the attack. During both of these interviews, the victim cried and appeared to be markedly distraught when recounting the incident. In subsequent interviews, she admitted that the gang rape had never occurred. Instead, she stated that she had lied about its occurrence and fabricated the details, and that this false incident was part of the narrative that she had been directed to memorize as part of her asylum application process. Presently, the complainant states that she would testify that she was raped in the past in her native country but in an incident different than the one that she described during initial interviews.”

    With the conjunction of the complainant giving both an account of the aftermath of the incident she now admits was false, and an account of a previous rape which she now admits was false, the DA is right to be concerned about the ability to prove Strauss-Kahn’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

    The entire letter can be found here: http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2011/07/01/nyregion/20110701-Strauss-Kahn-letter.html?smid=tw-nytimes

  7. The problem with this case goes well beyond the standard issues about whether rape victims are believed, and whether you have to be an exemplary victim. Have no doubt, this is one rape case the prosecutors are highly motivated to secure a conviction on, because they’ve hung themselves way out there. They’re facing career damage, and possibly lawsuits.

    However. If you have a documented history of lying under oath, you are going to have trouble getting justice in a situation where the entire case depends on people believing what you claim happened. Whatever the motivation for the lies was, you have proven that, given sufficient motivation, you’re willing to lie under oath.

    This case is probably dead. If the prosecutors can save it, they will, because this is going to be an immense embarrassment for them if it crashes. But you’d be seeing some very different public statements from them if they thought this was salvageable; they’d be spinning the positive aspects as a mitigation strategy rather than expressing dismay. (They’d still be required to share the negative aspects with the defense, but they could try to balance them in the media.)

    Is she telling the truth? I don’t know. Despite the problems with the accuser’s credibility, I’m slightly inclined toward believing her given (1) the fact that women rarely lie about rape, (2) Strauss-Khan’s history, and (3) the fact that she seems to have hesitated a bit on calling it in initially. But I can think of a couple other plausible scenarios too.

  8. As a side note, I saw her attorney on CNN earlier today, and he seemed to be trying to set a record for how many times you could say “vagina” in a press conference before they cut you off. It was startling, especially since the TV was in the lobby of my office.

  9. Jender, Akiba Solomon’s post suffers from the same problem as jj’s post here, probably because it relies on the same opaque NYT article. It’s simply not true, as Solomon implies, that the case against DSK has been upended primarily by aspects of the complainant’s history that have no direct bearing on the case, or merely by her associations with persons in trouble with the law.

    The most serious problem for the prosecution is that the complainant has admitted to lying to investigators and perjuring herself in front of the Grand Jury by giving a false account of the alleged assault’s aftermath. Additionally, she has admitted to lying to investigators about a previous rape (the rape she initially described as having taken place in her home country did not happen, although she may have been raped on a different occasion) – contra Solomon, this issue is not merely a matter of which details made it into her asylum application. She also apparently discussed the possibility of profiting from the case financially with her incarcerated boyfriend, and the call was recorded (the transcript is not available yet, but this NYT article gives the fullest account of that call so far http://www.nytimes.com/2011/07/02/nyregion/one-revelation-after-another-undercut-strauss-kahn-accusers-credibility.html?_r=1&hp).

    Solomon also insinuates that the seeming demise of the case is due in part to the complainant not being able to afford an investigative team that would unearth similarly unsavory details about DSK’s past. But it was not DSK’s team that discovered any of this. It was the prosecution’s own investigators that did so.

    Finally, even though DSK is a highly unsympathetic and probably very untrustworthy defendant, in assessing his credibility the relative to that of the complainant, it is probably at least somewhat relevant to note that, according to the BBC, DSK considered and ultimately declined to invoke his right to diplomatic immunity (to which he was entitled, contrary to some US press reports) before he could possibly have known whether the complainant could be easily discredited.

  10. ahwell, it would have been “too good to be true” and i have been waiting for something like this/was sure it would go like this, no matter the details. and of course “we” will never know what really happened. too bad for this case and rape in general.

  11. A lot seems to have come out since I first looked at an early NY Times article on Friday morning, but I am less certain about how to understand it than some people here. In particular, I am unclear what the force of lying is in regard to an asylum request.

    Let me use two analogies here. First of all, I interact with a large number of immigrants; for example, almost all the maintenance staff in an apartment building where I have an apartment have very heavy, Spanish accents, and are probably first generation immigrants. It is a condition of their employment that they enter into a lot of pretence. They ‘love’ cleaning my apartment, are very happy to fetch something I need, etc, etc. I also teach students, some of whom come from such a background. Sometimes my students say to me, “We know that you need to find out what the teacher believes and then give that back.” (I disagree with this, of course.) So what are they telling me? I see them as entering into a system with a fairly alien culture run by a lot of people who have a great deal of power over them. Telling the truth has little or nothing to do with it; you say what you have to say, because, among other things, you have no epistemic credibility, and saying something else is just going to get you in trouble, with a bad grade, from their point of view.

    In fact, I’m in a similar position. Even though I am normally a somewhat painfully candid person, I am dealing now with a huge buracracy to secure a goal that is nearly as important to me as an asylum request might be. (Think of having to work to get expert medical care for a very close and ill relative, or getting another very close relative who is in trouble adequate legal representation.) The system has various kinds of gate keepers at various points, and the reliability of some of their actions is pretty low. E.g., on Tues I spent about an hour on the phone being transferred from one inappropriate office to another until I was put on hold and eventually disconnected. It seems to me that truth is hardly the point in one’s attempt to get past the gate keepers. At some point past the gatekeepers, I think I will find a situation in which the truth matters, and I’ll be believed. I may be being optimistic. I expect that in my multi-cultural city, there are a lot of people who get past the gate keepers but are seldom simply believed.

    I can easily imagine that the accuser has little idea of how to account for her actions after the alleged assault. She may have felt she had to clean various rooms. But when she reports the incident she may have gotten strong signals to say that certain things. In the United States a lot of people tell other people how they must have acted and felt. E.g., “O this is terrible, don’t worry about your cleaning, I’m sure you couldn’t do it.” Is she supposed to correct her superiors?

    So there’s an extended scenario that has her being told what to say, either directly or indirectly. Rather as when a doctor says to you, “I think you really need this scanning to be done, but I have to tell them you have had some bloody discharge if we’re to get the insurance to pay for it.” Do you let that be said regardless of its truth?

    I read somewhere that she was told what to say on the asylum papers; I could be told what I have to say on insurance papers to get my son life-saving medicine. I bet we’d both do it.

    REgarding the phone call: In this sort of context, it makes a great deal of sense for her boyfriend to tell her to keep away from the whole thing. Do we expect her to assure him that her cause is honorable and she’ll be protected by telling the truth? He might think that is delusional. In any case, she told him that she knows how to work the system, which she has spent much of her life learning how to do, I would guess.

    So the conclusion may not be that a rape victim just has to be perfect; in may also be that she has to occupy a higher position in the power structures than this woman does. She has learned how to survive, as it were, but that did not teach her how to expect respect for her own individual account of facts. Rather, it’s intimated all along that her view is often beside the point.

    I think what I’m saying is sort of a cliche. I vaguely remember several movies who look at people in transition from one system to another, and watched them crushed in the newer one. I’d be willing to bet one could make such a movie about this woman.

    Or she’s a manipulating, scummy person.

  12. It’s obviously a very bad situation. (I find myself feeling especially bad for the future asylum applicants who will have a harder time now.) But from the legal standpoint I don’t see what else could happen at this point. From what we can tell, the case depended almost entirely on the woman’s testimony. For that to work, she has to be credible. The case has to be proved “beyond a reasonable doubt”, and should so have to be proved. (I sometimes think people disagree with this and want to use a lower standard. I think that’s wrong.) But, given that the prosecutors don’t trust the woman (with pretty good reason), given her history of being willing to lie under oath, and the other questionable bits, how could her testimony, the only substantive evidence here, come up to proof “beyond a reasonable doubt”? That’s what would have to be explained. Take what happened after she left DSK’s room, whatever happened there. According to what we know now, she told one story, which was itself plausible enough, at first, but then told another story when the first started to have holes in it that was also plausible enough, but incompatible with the first. But, the electric key card records don’t seem to fit the 2nd story, either, and seem to suggest a post-event path that doesn’t fit the story as well. Given all of this, isn’t the right answer to say, “I don’t know what happened”? But if we don’t know what happened, we don’t reach a standard of proof that allows for a conviction.

    As for the asylum application, as I’d mentioned a very large part of my work as a lawyer has been on asylum claims, and some of my scholarly work is on this, too. It’s flatly the case that people can and do buy “canned” asylum stories. (I had two different people try to sell me on _exactly the same_ story, in a case where it really could not have happened to two people, as each claimed to have been in a particular relationship to a political official, within a week of each other once.) I sympathize with such people. But, they make it harder for people to get asylum who fit the legal standards, and as such applications are made under oath, and “willing to lie under oath to get what they want” isn’t a very good thing to have known about the sole witness in a case that turns just on testimony. Unless one thinks a much lower standard of proof should apply in rape cases than in other crimes, I don’t see how, given the circumstances of the case, this one could possibly go forward. (Note how this would not be so clear in a case where there was other substantial physical evidence, but there seems to be none of that here.)

  13. I don’t mean to change the topic, but I think it’s interesting to consider this woman’s “lies” in the larger context of immigration. In particular, I have in mind the personal account of Jose Antonio Vargas (“My life as an undocumented immigrant”: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/06/26/magazine/my-life-as-an-undocumented-immigrant.html?_r=1), which is a pretty interesting read.

    Reading Vargas’ account made clear to me how lying may be necessary just to survive and/or stay in this country. He didn’t even know he was “lying” (i.e., he had fake papers) for the first four years that he was here. In any case, it strikes me that there very well may be good reasons for why someone seeking asylum might lie in the particular ways that DSK’s accuser is said to have lied. And yet to most non-immigrant Americans (who don’t have a clue what the larger context of this woman’s life situation are), she now looks like a liar who can’t be trusted about anything. The race and class privilege operating in this case are just astounding.

  14. I live in a not-so-good neighborhood, and everyone knows drug-dealers. I don’t talk to them besides saying “hello”, but others who are more friendly and more integrated in the neighborhood street-life spend lots of time hanging out with them. It’s part of normal socialization.

    So the fact that this woman has drug-dealer friends says nothing about her character; it says more about how lots of people earn a living in low income neighborhoods.

  15. So the fact that this woman has drug-dealer friends says nothing about her character; it says more about how lots of people earn a living in low income neighborhoods.

    s. wallerstein- have any of these drug dealers been making multi-thousand dollar deposits into your bank account? If not, I don’t think the cases are close enough to be relevant. I thinking about this case, it’s at least important to try to keep what seem to be the known facts in mind.

  16. I’ve recently listened to two accounts of false accusations/confessions on This American Life (NPR). Power just does make a huge difference.

    So does age, and we now know that young children need special interview techniques. I don’t think it is condescending to recognize that power can distort testimony, that they might need a cultural translator, etc. Apparently their interview techniques had her sobbing on the floor.

    Wittingly or unwittingly, they may have set out to destroy the witness. Certainly, their seeming conviction that if her testimony was inconsistent, she was lying seems innocent of any cultural understanding.

    Of course, the simple fact that some thing she said were inconsistent with the grand jury testimony may have sunk the case. Even if they get all the cultural stuff right on the prosecutors side, there’s still the jury.

  17. @pragmatic realist: “It is the definition of injustice to avoid a conviction based on the unworthy character of the victim and the high status of the criminal.” Beautifully said.

  18. Matt:

    No one has deposited much in my bank account lately, but yes, people with bank accounts let others who for one reason or another don’t have a bank account use theirs.
    It’s probably not the wisest thing to do, but in some circles it’s considered the “friendly” thing to do, and I’ve done it myself, although not in the last few years.

  19. I’m learning a lot from all sides in this careful discussion– thanks to all of you. JJ, what you’re going through sounds hellish. But the insights from it are very important. Maybe when things have calmed down you’ll be able to draw and write something.

  20. their seeming conviction that if her testimony was inconsistent, she was lying seems innocent of any cultural understanding.

    I don’t think they had to think she was lying. (I’m not sure what the prosecutors thought, from what I’ve read.) But, there’s a legal obligation to share the sort of knowledge they had with the defense. (This is often not followed, but it’s both wrong and illegal.) And, given that knowledge, her testimony wouldn’t be credible enough to convict, it seems, given the absence of any other direct evidence and given the (right, I think) high burden of proof in criminal cases. Even if the prosecutors felt subjectively certain she was telling the truth, it would have been an extremely hard case to make. Inconsistent testimony isn’t the sort of thing that reaches the “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard most of the time.

  21. Thanks, Jender. I’ve learned a lot from all sides of this debate. I think I see clearer how much context can influence prosecution.

    I was glad also to hear some of the details of his experiences from SW. It’s pretty obvious that there are many traps for the poor, and one of them comes with various check cashing places. From that perspective, especially if one knows some perhaps not entirely secure immigrants, it makes great sense for checks for others to be put in one’s account.

    The article helenesch linked to is really worth a read!

    I wish I were learning from my current experience; my only really new conclusion is that it might be good to get a xanax for the next round. Seriously. I’ve had just too many encounters over too many years with differences in power where pretense is required, and whatever the game is, it isn’t truth-telling. In my current location, there is a large class of immigrants who have not even yet gotten angry; they are mainly just frightened at any challenge.

  22. J.J.,,

    Sorry to hear about your personal difficulties.

    In any case, there is a huge “off the books” economy in which immigrants (some of them illegal) and others marginated by the system participate. In that “off the books” economy, not all people qualify for a checking account and so someone with one might well let “a friend” use theirs.

    In the country where I live (I am not famiiar with US. bank practices), illegal immigrants cannot get any kind of bank account, and those people who have no steady job or legal source of income (those who work off the books) and/or those with a bad credit record cannot qualify for a checking account. Thus, a checking account may be shared by
    several people, obviously among people who trust one another.

    One more point: we middle-class people assume that dealing with banks is as natural for all people as using a dictionary, but it’s not. You find people who don’t have “bank culture” and may well rely on a “friend”, that is, someone from their in-group, who does. In my experience women from “marginal” groups are often more able or willing to “negotiate” with the system, for example, with banks than males.
    That is, the person who deals with the bank or the authorities in general is often a woman.

    Since almost everyone in the “in-group” participates in the “off the books” economy in one way or another, questions about whether the money comes from drugs or informal construction jobs would not normally be asked.

  23. So far as I can tell no North American papers are publishing the name of the housekeeper in NYC in the DSK case. However, her name is all over the French papers. No doubt there are differences in the norms of what is acceptable to print, and there are likely also differences in the laws about publishing names of the targets of a sexual assault. But I’m curious if anyone knows the actual norms/laws constraining French journalists. It is kind of jarring to read the French articles after reading the NYT and other North American reports.

  24. @pragmatic realist: “It is the definition of injustice to avoid a conviction based on the unworthy character of the victim and the high status of the criminal.”

    That sounds good – really rolls off the tongue – but is problematic when you think about it. There are going to be some cases where our ability to determine whether the accused is a criminal, and indeed whether the accuser is a victim, is going to depend on the accuser’s testimony. If we have grounds for doubting the accuser’s honesty (based on past conduct or something else), we have a responsibility to take that into account.

    So in some cases, where the accuser’s character has a bearing on our determination of the underlying facts, it would be an injustice to convict *despite* the unworthy character of the accuser. Or, at least according to the long-prevailing view in the West (in principle) that punishment of the innocent is a greater injustice than acquittal of the guilty, we tolerate the possibility of one injustice in order to avoid the stronger possibility of a greater injustice.

  25. Postscript: All the charges against Dominique Strauss-Kahn arising from these allegations have been dismissed as of today, although an emergency appeal by his accusers’ lawyers will keep him in the United States just a little bit longer. Civil lawsuit to follow.

  26. Has anyone bothered to check out or list the number of times that DSK has lied or distorted the facts in public during his long political career?

    Since it’s his word against hers, that seems pertinent.

  27. SW, while I certainly wouldn’t say that lies DSK may have told in his political career are irrelevant, I don’t think they would have anything approaching an equivalent degree of pertinence. Even if you could find arguably equivalent instances (e.g. where DSK had lied under oath about a factual matter the truth of which he knew first-hand, à la Bill Clinton), you’d still be left with the reality that the prosecution bears the burden of proving its case. A defendant doesn’t even have to testify in his own defense, and many don’t. The accuser in this case would certainly need to give testimony, and thus her credibility could be challenged on cross-examination, whereas even if the case proceeded DSK might theoretically never even give testimony and thus it’s not certain his credibility would even have any bearing on the trial. That’s also why I wouldn’t say this is exactly a case of his word against hers, either (at least in the courtroom).

    With regard to the Guardian link, it’s an opinion piece rather than an article, so all it sums up is the Guardian fashion columnist’s opinion, which does not strike me as a very informed one in these matters. She wonders “why a woman’s false statements about her immigration status [a curious way of referring to the gang-rape falsehood], made years ago, were deemed more pertinent to an accusation of attempted rape that the vaginal bruising she allegedly incurred during the encounter itself.” I find the columnist’s words here to be misleading in several ways, none of which is really redeemed by the fact that she later admits that “to be fair … there were other factors”. It appears not to have occurred to the columnist that the chief thing linking any evidence of vaginal bruising to this case would have been Diallo’s testimony, and the false statements were pertinent to the reliability of that.

    The worst part is the columnist’s conclusion: “What has been proved, on an international scale, is that only women who have led lives as sheltered as Rapunzel and have memory recall as robotic as computers are capable of being raped.” That’s basically the same conclusion as the one drawn in the opening post to this thread, and I hope that after reading this thread everyone understands why that is a gross misstatement and not the lesson here at all.

  28. Hello Nemo,

    I’m more concerned about the political verdict in this case than the verdict of the courts, so how the courts weigh the so-called credibility of the accused and the accuser, while interesting, is not my chief focus. I long ago gave up on expecting just verdicts from the court system in cases where such huge asymmetries of power are present.

    By “political verdict”, I refer to how both uninformed and politically conscious public opinion see the case and the lessons that they draw from it, if any. In that sense, it certainly matters whether DSK has a record of lying and of distorting the truth, since there are only two versions of what happened in that hotel room, that of DSK and that of the maid.

    One of the two is telling the truth about whether she was raped or not.

    By the way, I enjoy your posts and look forward to reading them, since you have the courage to go against the grain, a rare courage in this world.

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