This morning’s New York Times story on the Dominique Strauss-Kahn rape investigation declared that the case was collapsing due to “major holes in the credibility of the housekeeper who charged that he attacked her.” That article, however, contained no allegations that the complainant had lied about the attack itself. Instead, the paper claimed that prosecutors had found inconsistencies in her asylum application and evidence that she had engaged in (and attempted to cover up) shady financial dealings prior to the incident. In the wake of the publication of the Times piece, many — myself included — have argued that such alleged misrepresentations had no bearing on the question of whether she had given an accurate account of her encounter with Strauss-Kahn.
Now, however, in a letter to DSK’s lawyers, the District Attorney’s office contends that the accuser lied to them about the immediate aftermath of the incident itself.
In conversations with detectives and prosecutors, they say, as well as in her grand jury testimony, DSK’s accuser repeatedly declared that she fled to a nearby hallway after leaving his suite (Suite 2806), remaining there until she encountered her supervisor, to whom she reported the assault. “The complainant has since admitted,” the DA’s office says, “that this account was false and that after the incident in Suite 2806, she proceeded to clean a nearby room and then returned to Suite 2806 and began to clean that suite before she reported the incident.”
Such misrepresentations do not themselves prove that DSK’s accuser was not attacked. As I’ve noted before, a woman who has been “raped in circumstances in which her judgment may be called into question … can expect to be disbelieved, shamed, and attacked, and that expectation may lead a rape survivor to alter her story to make it more palatable to police, or to a jury, or even to her friends and family.”
That said, though, this latest allegation is of a very different character than those the paper reported earlier. The Times bungled the story, and in doing so seriously misrepresented the state of the case.