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Prosecutors seek to dismiss Strauss-Kahn charges

NEW YORK -- New York City prosecutors filed court papers Monday recommending dismissal of sexual assault charges against former International Monetary Fund leader Dominique Strauss-Kahn, who was accused of attacking a hotel maid in May in a case ...

Nafissatou Diallo
In this July 28, 2011 file photo, Nafissatou Diallo, who accused former IMF Head Dominique Strauss-Kahn of sexually attacking her, speaks during a news conference at the Christian Cultural Center in the Brooklyn borough of New York. A person familiar with the case says New York prosecutors are likely to drop their sexual assault case against former International Monetary Fund leader Dominique Strauss-Kahn. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer, File)

NEW YORK -- New York City prosecutors filed court papers Monday recommending dismissal of sexual assault charges against former International Monetary Fund leader Dominique Strauss-Kahn, who was accused of attacking a hotel maid in May in a case that eventually dissolved amid questions about the woman's credibility.

The accuser, Nafissatou Diallo, and her attorney, Kenneth Thompson, met with representatives of the Manhattan district attorney's office to discuss the decision not to proceed with the prosecution.

The case captured international attention as a seeming cauldron of sex, violence, power and politics: A promising French presidential contender, known in his homeland as "the Great Seducer," accused of a brutal and contemptuous attack on an African immigrant who came to clean his plush hotel suite.

They emerged from the meeting 15 minutes later. Thompson didn't say what had happened inside or reveal what his client was told, but recited a short statement condemning prosecutors for their handling of the case.

"Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance has denied the right of a woman to get justice in a rape case," he said. "He has not only turned his back on this innocent victim. But he has also turned his back on the forensic, medical and other physical evidence in this case."

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At the same time, prosecutors filed legal papers with the court recommending that the charges be dismissed. The document was not immediately made available to the public, so the district attorney's reasons for asking for the dismissal were not known.

Strauss-Kahn is scheduled to go before a judge Tuesday. His lawyers, William Taylor and Benjamin Brafman, issued a statement saying that the French diplomat and his family were grateful for the decision.

"We have maintained from the beginning of this case that our client is innocent," they said. "We also maintained that there were many reasons to believe that Mr. Strauss-Kahn's accuser was not credible."

A person familiar with the case had told The Associated Press that prosecutors had concerns about Diallo's credibility and insufficient evidence of forced sexual encounter. The person spoke on the condition of anonymity.

The stakes were high for Strauss-Kahn, who resigned his IMF post, spent nearly a week behind bars and then spent possibly hundreds of thousands of dollars to pay for house arrest, as well as for DA Cyrus R. Vance Jr., who was handling the biggest case he has had during his 18 months in office.

Strauss-Kahn's lawyers, Benjamin Brafman and William W. Taylor, didn't immediately respond to email messages. The DA's office declined to comment.

Thompson filed papers Monday reiterating his call for the appointment of a special prosecutor and seeking to put the case on hold until a judge rules on the request.

The DA's handling of the case "has been inadequate and troubling," Thompson's papers say, and if the charges are dismissed, Strauss-Kahn "will never be held accountable at a criminal trial for the horrific crimes that he committed against Ms. Diallo, and a miscarriage of justice, which cannot be remedied, will have been allowed to occur."

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The request may face tall odds. Special prosecutors generally come in when a DA has a personal conflict of interest, such as having represented a defendant while in private practice, said Bennett L. Gershman, a Pace Law School professor.

In France, the political waters were stirring at the news and its potential implications for the country's presidential race. Before his May arrest, Strauss-Kahn, a Socialist, had seemed the most likely to take on French President Nicolas Sarkozy in next year's election -- and many thought he would beat the incumbent.

In the weeks before the deadline for Socialist Party candidates to declare they were running, the most prominent contenders said they would be willing to bend the rules for Strauss-Kahn if he were to be cleared. But on Monday, with the campaign in full force, candidates and the party seemed a bit more circumspect. Benoit Hamon, spokesman for the party, told reporters that he would not comment before the D.A.'s office made a decision.

"We hope it will be favorable for Dominique Strauss-Kahn, so he can fully get back his freedom, so we can hear from him again," Hamon said.

Strauss-Kahn, 62, was arrested after Diallo, 32, said the diplomat chased her down and forced her to perform oral sex when she arrived to clean his plush suite at the Sofitel hotel.

Strauss-Kahn denied the allegations. Strauss-Kahn's lawyers have said anything that happened wasn't forced. Thompson calls that "utter nonsense."

___

Associated Press writer Sarah DiLorenzo in Paris contributed to this report.

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Copyright 2011 The Associated Press.

Dominique Strauss-Kahn
In this May 19, 2011 file photo, former International Monetary Fund leader Dominique Strauss-Kahn listens to proceedings in his case in New York state Supreme Court, in New York. Prosecutors are exploring whether a lawyer for the hotel maid who accused Dominique Strauss-Kahn of sexual assault discussed the possibility of a financial settlement and suggested she could back away from the criminal case, people familiar with the matter said Friday, Aug. 19, 2011. The woman's lawyer sternly denied it. (AP Pho...

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