Affaire DSK: Attention, un scandale peut en cacher bien d’autres (The roué, the lying asylum seeker and the unscrupulous hotel)

Nous voulons affirmer par cette campagne que les sexualités des femmes sont multiples, se vivent indépendamment de la reproduction et ne sont pas forcément complémentaires du sexe masculin. Campagne osez le clito
As the young West African woman languished for two years in an immigration jail in New York, all she had was her story. She said her name was Adelaide Abankwah and that she needed asylum in the United States because, back home in Ghana, she had been chosen « queen mother » of her tribe. If forced to return, she claimed, her people would discover she was not a virgin, as tradition demanded, and would subject her to painful genital mutilation. The story shocked many who heard it. Feminists and human rights activists rallied to her cause, drawing extensive media coverage and support from celebrities and politicians. Among the famous and influential who sympathized with her were Gloria Steinem, actresses Julia Roberts and Vanessa Redgrave, members of Congress and first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton. After judges twice ruled against her, she was released from detention last year and won asylum from a federal appeals court. But an Immigration and Naturalization Service investigation has concluded that the story is a fabrication and the woman an impostor, according to INS officials and documents. The confidential INS inquiry — and separately, The Washington Post — found that the woman claiming to be Adelaide Abankwah is actually a 31-year-old former Ghanaian hotel worker named Regina Norman Danson. The WP (2000)
 Dominique Strauss-Kahn (…) c’était le symbole de la France arrogante. C’était l’emblème d’un monde de privilégiés odieusement sûrs de leur impunité. C’était le miroir de ce monde de banquiers blancs mondialisés qui constituent Wall Street et dont l’autre Amérique, celle des Main Street de toutes les villes du pays, se vivait comme l’essentielle ennemie. Et Madame Diallo était, face à cela, l’allégorie de ces femmes battues, humiliées et, de surcroît, immigrées et pauvres dont la parole a été trop longtemps étouffée et qui, enfin, à travers elle, s’exprimait. BHL
Il y a eu une relation sexuelle ce jour-là, mais qui sait ce qui s’est vraiment passé? (…) C’est le bazar des deux côtés. Enquêteur de la police newyorkaise
Aucune femme de chambre ne fait mention d’agression sexuelle. Mais les propositions sont assez fréquentes de la part des clients du Moyen-Orient, des Russes, du milieu du show-biz. "Ils amènent des prostituées dans les chambres, donc ils se disent pourquoi pas nous", s’indigne l’une d’elles. Le Monde
Il faut sortir de l’hypocrisie. Ce n’est pas la première fois que DSK se livrait à ce genre d’agissements au Sofitel. C’est là qu’il descendait toujours. Ça s’est produit plusieurs fois et depuis plusieurs années. Tout le monde le savait dans l’hôtel. Bernard Debré
Le Professeur Bernard Debré, Ancien Ministre, Député de Paris, opérant actuellement en Chine, tient à préciser que ses correspondants à New-York ont laissé entendre qu’il pouvait y avoir d’autres affaires de même nature impliquant Dominique Strauss-Kahn mais sans viser spécifiquement les hôtels Sofitel. Communiqué
The sources said the maid, described as a West African immigrant in her 30s, had normally been assigned to clean a different floor in the hotel but recently volunteered to take the floor where Strauss-Kahn’s luxury suite was after a colleague had gone on leave. The Daily Beast
Les seuls autres éléments susceptibles de mettre en cause la victime avaient été des rumeurs relayées dans le tabloïd New York Post, très proche des milieux policiers mais peu réputé pour sa rigueur, selon lesquelles la femme de chambre aurait demandé expressément à ses supérieurs, à l’occasion de l’absence d’une consoeur, à nettoyer l’étage des VIP, dont la suite 2806 qu’occupait M. Strauss-Kahn. Elle n’était pas étrangère à toute information dans la mesure où elle était syndiquée et où des photos des personnalités importantes étaient parfois affichées dans le vestiaire des femmes de chambre, au sous-sol de l’hôtel. Le Monde
Did she engage in consensual oral sex and then was coached to spit to ensure DNA evidence could be collected? Did she make a call to one or more conspirators during her multiple entries into room 2820? Was her original story simply rehearsed to garner sympathy with colleagues and investigators, only to unravel later when conflicting evidence emerged? Does the prison call suggest she habitually cashed in on VIP hotel client with lots of money? The Daily Beast
Que faudrait-il considérer aujourd’hui ? Que Lang, BHL et Jean-François Kahn n’étaient pas de vieux machos, mais des hommes de solide bon sens, doublés d’amis fidèles, ne cédant pas à l’emballement ? Que Marianne, L’Obs et Libé avaient eu bien raison de garder le secret sur leurs déjeuners (2) avec DSK ? Que le PS a eu lui aussi bien raison de ne pas exclure le sénateur Mahéas (3) (à réintégrer d’urgence sur la liste des sénatoriales), et que les plaignantes de l’affaire Tron, à coup sûr manipulées par le Front National, ont sans doute fantasmé les dérapages réflexologues (4) du maire ? Que la direction du Park Hyatt de la place Vendôme a été bien avisée de laisser passer vingt-quatre heures, avant d’accompagner au commissariat la femme de chambre victime d’agression sexuelle d’un nabab qatari ? Que les femmes journalistes harcelées par les politiques (5) les avaient bien un peu allumés, tout de même ? Que Tristane Banon (6) est indiscutablement mythomane ? Que le délice des baisers volés à la Fragonard a encore de beaux jours devant lui, sur la belle terre de France ? Que les féministes américaines sont décidément des viragos hystériques ? Ne pas se précipiter. L’énigme de la suite 2806 est une chose, et il ne faut exclure aucun retournement, dans aucun sens. Mais l’examen de conscience national tous azimuts, la déconstruction d’habitudes et d’évidences, dont elle a été le déclencheur, et dont nous rendons compte ici depuis six semaines, avec toute la prudence dont nous sommes humainement capables, est un acquis salutaire et, on l’espère, irréversible. Daniel Schneidermann (ASI)
Running an international institution or running for the presidency of an important nation is incompatible—if no one has noticed by now—with also being a famous and full-time roue. There was a time when the peccadilloes, misdemeanors and even high crimes of public officials might be carried out on the tides. No longer. In the modern media age, nothing of this sort is ever "small" for people in public life, which—hard as it is to recall—brings with it public responsibilities. People like Dominique Strauss-Kahn or Anthony Weiner, who want to skate along the edge of responsibility to the public they serve and the excitements of private temptation, should probably retire to private life where they can take their chances with nothing more than private reputation. The case of Dominique Strauss-Kahn has turned out to be a useful if rugged lesson for prosecutors, the media, politicians, gawkers and the famous man at the center of it all. With luck, the lessons may even be learned. The WSJ

Alors qu’avec le retour après 18 mois de deux otages d’Afghanistan, les médias français découvrent brusquement l’otage franco-israélien retenu depuis plus de 5 ans sans visite de la Croix rouge par le mouvement terroriste du Hamas à Gaza …

Et que devant les caméras du monde entier un Prince Albert doublement père naturel se voit appelé à "renoncer au mal" …

Pendant que, sur fond de campagne nationale pour la défense du clitoris lancée par le même collectif ("osez le féminisme"‘) qui avait été si en pointe sur l ‘affaire DSK, commencent à sortir, relayées cette fois par le camp de l’ex-patron du FMI, des rumeurs sur les à-côtés sexuels dont aurait pu être coutumière la fameuse femme de chambre de l’hôtel Sofitel …

Comme d’habitude, le plus intéressant dans les scandales, c’est de (re)découvrir ce qui jusque là apparaissait comme la normalité.

Et si, en dépit des réjouissances un peu rapides de nos médias ou de l’état-major socialiste suite à l’ l’effondrement, entre les mensonges de la plaignate elle-même non seulement à l’immigration et aux impôts mais sur ses faits et gestes juste après les faits, du dossier d’une accusation piégée par sa hâte à éviter toute suspicion de favoritisme ou la fuite de son encombrant inculpé, on n’assistait pas en fait à la continuation sous une autre forme du déballage de linge sale que l’affaire avait lancé ?

Et ce tant du côté des conditions dans lesquelles nombre de migrants africains obtiennent des visas de réfugiés en Occident ?

Que du côté des pratiques à la limite de la prostitution sur lesquelles nombre d’hôtels de luxe semblent avoir jusqu’ici largement fermé les yeux ?

Mais aussi, du côté de nos dirigeants en notamment de l’ex-patron du FMI et ex-candidat à la magistrature suprême française, du véritable mode de vie de débauché que permet le système ?

The Amazing Strauss-Kahn Case

The roué, the maid and the mysterious $100,000 deposit.

The WSJ

July 1, 2011

Within the disintegration of the Manhattan district attorney’s case against Dominique Strauss-Kahn may be found sufficient lessons to occupy seminars on law, media, sex rehab and modern politics for a very long time.

Let’s start with the higher road of the law’s role in what, from start to finish, has been a very low story.

After Mr. Strauss-Kahn’s arrest in May for his encounter with an immigrant maid in a room at the Sofitel Hotel on New York’s West 44th Street, the Manhattan DA charged him with seven counts, including four felonies. Bear in mind that the accused was not some anonymous French businessman overwhelmed by the neon excitement of Times Square but was the managing director of the International Monetary Fund and the odds-on favorite to be the Socialist contender for the presidency of France.

After indicting Mr. Strauss-Kahn, Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. announced that the "evidence supports the commission of nonconsensual forced sexual acts." Moreover, the prosecutor’s office called the maid’s account of sex "compelling and unwavering." Thereupon, Mr. Strauss-Kahn took ownership of the tabloid covers.

This Thursday evening, information about the maid was leaked by New York law officials. Under investigation, the maid’s credibility passed from compelling to about zero.

The investigation revealed that a day after the May incident the Guinean immigrant called a man, in jail for possession of 400 pounds of marijuana, to discuss how she might exploit the case. The call was taped. Even more compelling, this man and others had made cash deposits totaling $100,000 in the maid’s bank account. This raised the possibility that the woman was involved in drug trafficking and money laundering. There’s more, but that’s enough.

There is little possibility of the DA’s office winning a she said/he said case against Mr. Strauss-Kahn, who earlier had posted $1 million bail and a $5 million bond (money, it was reported, that will be returned to him). On Friday, the prosecutors agreed to release Mr. Strauss-Kahn on his own recognizance. He can travel anywhere in the U.S.

The case isn’t officially over. A prosecutor in the DA’s office says the rape charge will continue, because forensic evidence establishes a sexual encounter. In light of the woman’s recorded conversation about cashing in on the incident, it is difficult to see the point. Instead, the Manhattan DA should dig deeper into the reasons for those large cash deposits to the woman’s bank account. Mr. Strauss-Kahn’s allies inevitably will suggest the money was part of a plot to entrap him. If it was only part of routine money-laundering, that needs to be established quickly.

Mr. Vance’s office loaded up a lot of its reputation on the credibility of one witness in a high-profile case. That reputation has taken a hit. That said, Mr. Vance deserves credit for resisting the modern, Javert-like prosecutor compulsion to grind these cases through the courts. If it’s over, it should be over.

As to Dominique Strauss-Kahn, no doubt he has been handled roughly. Some in France will ascribe this to "the Americans." We would suggest it is truer to say that if a man is known throughout the world as simply "DSK," he has attained a degree of stature and fame that he can protect or pointlessly put at risk. Running an international institution or running for the presidency of an important nation is incompatible—if no one has noticed by now—with also being a famous and full-time roue.

There was a time when the peccadilloes, misdemeanors and even high crimes of public officials might be carried out on the tides. No longer. In the modern media age, nothing of this sort is ever "small" for people in public life, which—hard as it is to recall—brings with it public responsibilities.

People like Dominique Strauss-Kahn or Anthony Weiner, who want to skate along the edge of responsibility to the public they serve and the excitements of private temptation, should probably retire to private life where they can take their chances with nothing more than private reputation.

The case of Dominique Strauss-Kahn has turned out to be a useful if rugged lesson for prosecutors, the media, politicians, gawkers and the famous man at the center of it all. With luck, the lessons may even be learned.

 Voir aussi:

Strauss-Kahn Accuser’s Call Alarmed Prosecutors

JIM DWYER and MICHAEL WILSON

The NYT

July 1, 2011

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.

It was another ground-shifting revelation in a continuing series of troubling statements, fabrications and associations that unraveled the case and upended prosecutors’ view of the woman. Once, in the hours after she said she was attacked on May 14, she’d been a “very pious, devout Muslim woman, shattered by this experience,” the official said — a seemingly ideal witness.

Little by little, her credibility as a witness crumbled — she had lied about her immigration, about being gang raped in Guinea, about her experiences in her homeland and about her finances, according to two law enforcement officials. She had been linked to people suspected of crimes. She changed her account of what she did immediately after the encounter with Mr. Strauss-Kahn. Sit-downs with prosecutors became tense, even angry. Initially composed, she later collapsed in tears and got down on the floor during questioning. She became unavailable to investigators from the district attorney’s office for days at a time.

Now the phone call raised yet another problem: it seemed as if she hoped to profit from whatever occurred in Suite 2806.

The story of the woman’s six-week journey from seemingly credible victim, in the eyes of prosecutors, to a deeply unreliable witness, is drawn from interviews with law enforcement officials, statements from the woman’s lawyer and a letter from prosecutors to Mr. Strauss-Kahn’s defense team released in court on Friday. Some of the events were confirmed by both law enforcement officials and the women’s lawyer; others rely solely on law enforcement officials. In the end, it was the prosecutors’ assessment of the housekeeper’s credibility that led them to downgrade their confidence in the case and agree on Friday that Mr. Strauss-Kahn could be freed from house arrest.

In the beginning, her relationship with prosecutors was strong. Her account seemed solid. Over time, the well-placed official said, they discovered that she was capable of telling multiple, inconsistent versions of what appeared to be important episodes in her life. After the encounter with Mr. Strauss-Kahn, she asked her supervisor at Sofitel, “Can any guest at the hotel do anything they want with us?” her lawyer, Kenneth P. Thompson, said during a sidewalk press conference on Friday defending her.

The supervisor called security, and officers, finding semen on the floor and wall, called the police, setting off the quick chain of events that led to police officers escorting Mr. Strauss-Kahn off an Air France plane set to depart Kennedy International Airport.

Suspicions of the woman’s associations arose relatively quickly: within a week of Mr. Strauss-Kahn’s arrest, the authorities learned of a recorded conversation between the subject of a drug investigation and another man, who said his companion was the woman involved in the Strauss-Kahn matter, according to another law enforcement official.

Prosecutors and investigators interviewed the woman at length.

Her immigration history was a focus. At first, she told them what she told immigration officials seven years ago in her accounts of how she fled Guinea and her application for asylum on Dec. 30, 2004. She described soldiers destroying the home where she lived with her husband, and said they were both beaten because of their opposition to the regime. She said her husband died in jail.

But then, in a subsequent interview with Manhattan prosecutors, she said the story was false, one she had been urged to tell by a man who gave it to her on a cassette recording to memorize. She had listened to the recording repeatedly.

The housekeeper also told investigators that she had been gang raped in Guinea. She cried and became “markedly distraught when recounting the incident,” according to a letter to the defense from prosecutors released Friday. But she later admitted that that, too, was a lie, once again one she had told to help her application for asylum. She said she was indeed raped in Guinea, but not in the way she had described.

Her lawyer, Mr. Thompson, said she was desperate to leave Guinea, and had been encouraged to embellish her application for asylum.

The boyfriend in the Arizona detention center was another issue. He had been arrested while bartering counterfeit designer clothing from Manhattan’s Chinatown for marijuana in the Southwest, the well-placed law enforcement official said. Her lawyer said she did not know the man was “a drug dealer.”

Meanwhile, as the interviews continued, the relationship grew more strained. During a meeting at the district attorney’s office on June 9, the woman wept as she was questioned closely after Mr. Thompson had left for another engagement. Her 15-year-old daughter, who was waiting outside, noticed that her mother was upset and called a relative to alert Mr. Thompson. The lawyer called the prosecutors and demanded an end to the questioning. He said on Friday that the daughter heard them shout, “Get out! Get out! Get out of here!” at her mother. The authorities say there was no shouting.

At another meeting, the woman threw herself to the floor in response to questions, the well-placed official said.

Then, for some 10 days, prosecutors were unable to get Mr. Thompson to bring her in; the lawyer said she was being treated for a shoulder injury that she suffered in the attack, an injury she had not reported earlier.

The final meeting occurred on Tuesday in the seventh-floor offices of the district attorney at 1 Hogan Place. It began at 11 a.m. and lasted five or six hours, except for a short lunch break, around an oval table in a conference room in the offices of the Public Integrity Unit.

It was devastating. In recent weeks, investigators collected bank records showing deposits of thousands of dollars in Arizona, Georgia, New York and Pennsylvania to an account in her name.

The woman had repeatedly said that the Sofitel was her only source of income.

Now, investigators confronted her with the bank records.

The woman, silent, turned to Mr. Thompson, seemingly pleading for direction on how to respond. He seemed startled.

“He was speechless,” the well-placed official said.

The district attorney’s office said the woman had lied about her income to maintain her public housing, and had claimed a friend’s child as her own dependant to increase her tax refund.

At the same meeting, the woman gave a new version of what she had done immediately after the encounter with Mr. Strauss-Kahn. In testimony before the grand jury in May, she said she had fled Suite 2806 to an area in the main hallway and waited until she saw Mr. Strauss-Kahn leave in an elevator. She has said that her supervisor arrived a short time later, and that she told her supervisor what had happened.

On Tuesday, the well-placed official said, she told investigators new details, stating, “I forgot to tell you this.”

In fact, she said, she left Mr. Strauss-Kahn’s room and entered another room — her lawyer said it was Suite 2820 — and cleaned it, and then returned to Suite 2806 and cleaned it until her supervisor arrived.

“She did not know what to do,” her lawyer said. “She did not want to lose her job. She knew that her supervisor was going to be coming upstairs momentarily. So, she went into another room.”

And yet, even this version was not corroborated by card-key data obtained by investigators on Friday, which indicated that the housekeeper went to the other room only after she had finished Mr. Strauss-Kahn’s room.

Some within the district attorney’s office suggested that the rush to bring the case to a grand jury may have contributed to its current, weakened state.

Early on, there appeared to be disagreement in the office over how to proceed — whether to agree to a bail package for Mr. Strauss-Kahn and take more time to investigate before seeking his indictment, or whether to try to keep him locked up and quickly take the case to the grand jury for an indictment, according to three people involved in the case.

The office chose to seek a quick indictment, but a Manhattan judge let Mr. Strauss-Kahn out on bail anyway.

Mr. Thompson said that the housekeeper’s account of what took place in Suite 2806 is the only one that matters, and said that in the jail recording, she recounted a version of the encounter that matched what she had told the police.

“It’s a fact that the victim here has made some mistakes, but that doesn’t mean she’s not a rape victim,” Mr. Thompson said Friday.

The woman has been crushed that her inconsistent statements have been brought to light, Mr. Thompson said. “I will go to my grave knowing what this man did to me,” she told him on Friday, he said.

John Eligon and William K. Rashbaum contributed reporting.

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