Watch CBS News

Manhattan DA Vance Breaks Silence On Decision To Drop Strauss-Kahn Case

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. had a total change of heart on Wednesday. He finally explained, personally, why he had to drop sexual assault charges against Dominique Strauss-Kahn.

CBS 2 political reporter Marcia Kramer was outside the prosecutor's office when he left for the night and got the exclusive interview.

He's finally talking.

"We acted on the information available to us, and we responded, I think, appropriately to the information available to us," Vance said.

After essentially saying "see ya later, bye" to CBS 2 reporters trying to get him to personally explain the decision to drop the charges against French banker Strauss-Kahn, Vance explained himself Wednesday evening.

Vance was saved by Tuesday's earthquake from answering questions about Strauss-Kahn and he laid low for some time before being coaxed out by Kramer. That took work because she, along with several of her colleagues, struggled to get a word -- any word -- on the case from Vance for nearly a day.

Earlier Wednesday, security guards wouldn't even let CBS 2 cameras through the door of Vance's building.

Guard: "You're not going to be able to use that camera in here."

Kramer: "I'm here to interview Cy Vance."

Guard: "Okay, but you have to make an appointment. We can't ever bring this camera in here. You have to make an appointment."

Kramer tried repeatedly Wednesday to get Vance to explain why he decided to drop sex assault charges against Strauss-Kahn, and she wasn't the only one. CBS 2's Kristin Thorne also tried in the morning outside of his home.

What's more, CBS 2's Sean Hennessey tried to get comment from Vance on Tuesday night.

Vance: "I can't talk right now. I'm with my family."

Hennessey: "Sir, you're a public officer who has to answer questions about why you dropped the very controversial case, politically charged. I think you owe the American, New York voters some answers, don't you?"

Vance: "Have a nice evening."

Even Tuesday, after the case against Strauss-Kahn was formally dropped and seconds before the earthquake saved him, the district attorney was trying to limit his public on-camera exposure to the press.

"I'm going to make some remarks and then I'll take a limited number of questions," Vance said.

But all that changed Wednesday night.

Kramer: "Women's groups feel, you know, that the office has been soft on sex crimes cases. Is there anything you'd like to say to them?"

Vance: "I think sex crimes cases are an important focus of our office. We have brought many indictments in tough sex crimes cases. I believe that our commitment to sex crimes cases, crimes against the immigrant community, crimes against the elderly, vulnerable victims are all cases that we take seriously."

In hindsight, would the district attorney have done anything differently? Would he maybe have not pulled the former head of the International Monetary Fund and possible candidate for the presidency of France off that airplane back in May?

How did the maid, Nafissatou Diallo, go from being a credible witness to someone who didn't tell the truth?

"You don't know everything at the beginning of the case, obviously, that you may learn down the road. And information may not be available for some time. As lawyers, when information changes and facts change, we have an obligation to respond to those facts and reassess," Vance said.

Even with the district attorney's interview there will probably still be people with questions about what happened in the case and what happened in that hotel room.

Sources told Kramer that although court papers indicate the maid didn't tell prosecutors the truth about some events, there's no evidence she made false claims. So, it's unlikely she will be charged with perjury.

Are you satisfied with DA Vance's explanation for why he dropped the DSK case? Please offer your thoughts in the comments section below.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.