Legal analyst: Strauss-Kahn case will "go away"
Dominique Strauss-Kahn is enjoying freedom this weekend for the first time since his arrest on sexual assault charges, as the case against him now hangs by a thread.
The former head of the International Monetary Fund left his Manhattan apartment finally free from house arrest - gone with the ankle bracelet - after prosecutors admitted there are "substantial credibility issues" with the housekeeper who accused him of sexual assault.
A former federal prosecutor said she expects the sexual assault case against Strauss-Kahn to "go away."
"The prosecution hasn't dropped charges yet, but I anticipate that is coming," legal analyst and former federal prosecutor Sunny Hostin said on CBS' "The Early Show on Saturday Morning."
Hostin said the District Attorney sent Brady material - exculpatory information about the case - in a letter to the defense. She said it exposes "significant" problems with Strauss-Kahn's accuser.
"I think the problem is that she cannot withstand cross-examination on the witness stand," Hostin said.
Prosecutors admitted the 32-year-old woman told them a series of lies about her whereabouts after the attack - first claiming to be hiding in the hotel's hallway, but later admitting to cleaning two rooms, reports correspondent Sean Hennessey of CBS Station WCBS.
At a hearing Friday the judge quickly returned $1 million bail to Strauss-Kahn. The 62-year-old strolled out of court all smiles - a far cry from the dark days in May when he was paraded before cameras in cuffs. It cost Strauss-Kahn his job and took him out of the running for the French presidency.
The woman's lawyer, Ken Thompson, blasted the D.A., asserting a sexual attack did happen.
"It is a fact that the victim here made some mistakes, but that doesn't mean she's not a rape victim," he said. "You cannot discount the powerful physical evidence that was left behind during that assault."
Legal experts say the accuser's credibility cripples the prosecution's case.
"This was always going to be a tough case," former prosecutor Randy Mastro told CBS News. "It was always going to be a 'He said/she said.'"
Strauss-Kahn's lawyers say this case is a reminder of how easy it is to enter into a rush to judgment.
Strauss-Kahn is still not allowed to leave the country - authorities continue to hold his passport.
He returns to court July 18.
"This case was very much from the beginning a 'he said/she said,'" said Hostin. "They were the only two in that hotel suite that day, and if she can't withstand cross-examination - especially from someone as skilled as [defense attorney] Ben Brafman - this case is going nowhere."
When asked why prosecutors have not dropped charges, Hostin said, "That's a team decision that needs to be made, that goes all the way up to the top. The decision to drop a sexual assault case that has already been indicted in front of a grand jury is a very difficult decision to make because you do have an alleged victim to consider, and you do have the larger picture: I think sometimes there's this chilling effect. When this type of thing happens, a lot of women don't want to come forward [in other sexual assault cases], they're reluctant to come forward.
"So there are a lot of pieces of the puzzle that need to be put together before that decision is made, but after reading this [Brady material], I suspect that this case is going away, and that the charges will be dropped, and we'll probably see that July 18."
Above: Defense lawyers William Taylor and Benjamin Brafman and former IMF head Dominique Strauss-Kahn (table at right), and prosecutors Joan Illuzzi Orbon and John McConnell (table at left) listen during a hearing in New York State Supreme Court July 1, 2011 in New York. (Todd Heisler/AFP/Getty Images)
"In the case of a rape victim or somebody who alleges that they are a rape victim, how important is their credibility in terms of proving that case against a defendant?" asked CBS News' Rebecca Jarvis.
"It is paramount, especially in this type of case where there are only two people," Hostin said. "There aren't any independent witnesses here. And while there may be forensics, the defense is usually, 'Listen, sure, there's evidence of sexual contact, because this was consensual.' And [Strauss-Kahn] said that all along. He said that from the very beginning: 'Something happened but it was consensual.'
"So when you take the forensics out and just have one person's story against the other person's story, the credibility of the victim of the accuser is paramount," said Hostin. "Now that her credibility has been significantly undermined and the prosecution has told the judge that it's undermined, the prosecution has told the defense team it is undermined, in a case like that, the case goes away."
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