Saturday, July 2, 2011

Immigrant Lies, French Guy Flies

The New York Times has the best, i.e., the least hysterical, coverage of the legal reversals in the case against that French Big Shot with the double-barreled name.

The development represented a stunning reversal in a case that reshaped the French political landscape and prompted debate about morals, the treatment of women and the American justice system. Prosecutors said that they still believed there was evidence to support the notion that Mr. Strauss-Kahn had forced the woman to perform oral sex, but that inconsistencies in her past and in her account of the moments following the episode could make it extremely difficult to persuade jurors to believe her.

-- snip --

Prosecutors disclosed that the woman had admitted lying in her application for asylum from Guinea. According to their letter, she “fabricated the statement with the assistance of a male who provided her with a cassette recording” that she memorized. She also said that her claim that she had been the victim of a gang rape in Guinea was a lie.

There is more information in a letter to the lawyers for the accused sent by New York County District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr. (the son of Jimmy Carter's first Secretary of State, BTW).

So, the immigrant from Guinea who reported she was raped by Dominique Strauss-Kahn had made fraudulent statements during her 2004 Application for Asylum and for Withholding of Removal from the USA sufficient to convince an Asylum Officer that she suffered persecution or fear of persecution due to her race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion. In other words, she lied to get a Green Card. Or to put it more cynically, she responded to the incentives provided by our asylum laws.

Personally, I'm shocked to learn that an African woman could so blatantly abuse our asylum process and get away with it. But I'll get over my surprise.

Lying for a Green Card doesn't automatically impeach your credibility in an unrelated criminal case. But, unhappily for District Attorney Vance, his victim's past lies-to-justify-asylum included rape, and New York law allows juries to hear about past false accusations of rape.

Maybe even worse, the victim evidently thought about profiting from the situation, and did so out loud in a phone call that was subject to monitoring by the same immigration service that she had defrauded back in 2004:

Twenty-eight hours after a housekeeper at the Sofitel New York said she was sexually assaulted by Dominique Strauss-Kahn, she spoke by phone to a boyfriend in an immigration jail in Arizona.

Investigators with the Manhattan district attorney’s office learned the call had been recorded and had it translated from a “unique dialect of Fulani,” a language from the woman’s native country, Guinea, according to a well-placed law enforcement official.

When the conversation was translated — a job completed only this Wednesday — investigators were alarmed: “She says words to the effect of, ‘Don’t worry, this guy has a lot of money. I know what I’m doing,’ ” the official said.

The two revelations surely look like the end of the case against Dominique Strauss-Kahn, but not - I think - an exoneration of him. His lawyers now have what they need to create reasonable doubt in the minds of the jury despite "evidence to support the notion that Mr. Strauss-Kahn had forced the woman to perform oral sex." Doesn't make him innocent, just makes him free to go.

The purported victim might really be a victim. And if so she wouldn't be any less a victim because she previously lied about being raped in order to get asylum, or even because she plotted to get some of Dominique Strauss-Kahn's (wife's) millions afterwards. But her actions before and after the event in the Sofitel suite will prevent justice from being done out of our constitutional concern for the rights of the accused.


Anonymous said...

TSB: Wouldn't you like to see the whole criminal ring story told? I guess her hair and makeup bills were huge and she was bringing in big bucks from Sofitel clients. What a chance to strike a blow against human trafficking! Think the UN will call for an investigation? gwb

TSB said...

I don't think she was a prostitute, just a hustler working the asylum angle and scarfing up all the bennies she could. But a UN investigation is a good idea; no one knows more about up-scale prostitution in mid-town Manhattan.