Judge in Strauss-Kahn case rejects demand for special prosecutor
It was the latest twist in a case expected to formally collapse Tuesday morning in a New York courtroom, where prosecutors will publicly outline their reasons for requesting that the case against Strauss-Kahn be dropped.
Kenneth P. Thompson, the attorney for accuser Nafissatou Diallo, filed the motion to appoint a special prosecutor on Monday, after the office of Dist. Atty. Cyrus Vance Jr. said it had lost faith in the accuser's reliability and wanted to drop the charges. In his motion, Thompson accused the district attorney’s office of trying to “sabotage” the case against the powerful and wealthy Frenchman, who was once considered a leading contender to become France’s next president.
In rejecting the request, Judge Michael J. Obus said that “after considering the allegations in the complainant's application, in light of the circumstances of this case, the Court concludes that nothing called to its attention establishes disqualification or warrants removal of the elected District Attorney of this County” from the case.
The decision was handed out to reporters as they were being seated in the courtroom, which was packed to capacity with media and spectators, including some activists angry over the case’s dismissal. Nearly an hour before the hearing’s scheduled start, Joan Illuzzi-Orbon and John "Artie" McConnell, both assistant district attorneys, took their seats in the courtroom.
Thompson has been highly critical of Vance’s handling of the case since prosecutors in July first raised questions about Diallo’s credibility and indicated they might either seek to reduce the charges or drop the case altogether. After a raucous court hearing in which Strauss-Kahn’s bail was lifted, Thompson accused Vance of being afraid to go ahead with the case because he was afraid of losing it. His allegations came after the acquittals of two former New York police officers in another high-profile sexual assault trial, something Thompson alleged had cowed Vance in the Strauss-Kahn case.
-- Geraldine Baum and Tina Susman in New York
Photo: Protesters rally outside a Manhattan court early Tuesday where a hearing in Dominique Strauss-Kahn's assault case is taking place. Credit: Craig Ruttle / Associated Press