Attorneys for the woman accusing former IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn of sexual assault asked Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance Jr. on Wednesday to step down from the case, claiming his office has botched the job by giving out damaging info about their client.
“We ask in earnest that your office voluntarily recuse itself from the Strauss-Kahn case and that you appoint a special prosecutor,” Kenneth Thompson, the lawyer for the 32-year-old hotel maid, wrote in a letter obtained by Reuters.
A spokeswoman for Vance declined to comment. But legal experts told Reuters he was unlikely to step down.
Vance’s team was already meeting in Manhattan on Wednesday with attorneys for Strauss-Kahn, although details were not made public. Talks reportedly centered on either a dismissal of the case or a plea bargain.
While the district attorney’s office continues to investigate, the lack of unassailable evidence and credibility problems with the accuser have already caused the “rock-solid” case to crumble, observers said.
“As a practical matter, (the case is) dissolved,” said James Cohen, a Fordham University law professor. “They don’t have enough evidence to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.”
Meanwhile, a rush to judgment against Strauss-Kahn, who was arrested in May, appeared to be a mistake for Vance, legal experts said.
It was recently discovered the maid had changed her story about what happened after the alleged attack and that she lied on tax returns and political asylum paperwork after fleeing her native Guinea.
“Unfortunately for the prosecution … they forced themselves into a bad decision,” said Jeremy Saland, a Manhattan criminal defense attorney.
Police Commissioner Ray Kelly — who called the complaint “credible” after Khan’s arrest — and Mayor Michael Bloomberg also came out in support of Vance. The mayor on Tuesday continued to laud the top prosecutor for “taking on high-profile cases.”
However, observers say the holes in this case have been “insanely embarrassing” for Vance and his supporters.
Strauss-Kahn’s defense team has reportedly been building a case that any sexual contact was consensual.
The New York Post even cited an unnamed source last weekend claiming the accuser also worked as a prostitute. Her attorney filed a libel lawsuit Tuesday against the newspaper.