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Après DSK: The Two Big Lessons From The Strauss-Kahn Affair

As charges are dropped in New York against the former IMF chief, Le Monde blasts the American practice of the "perp walk," which left Strauss-Kahn's reputation in tatters. The French daily, however, reserves ultimate blame for a

(loranger)
(loranger)

PARIS - On May 18, this newspaper published that now historic photograph of the IMF Director coming out of the Harlem police station, handcuffed, with a somber and inscrutable face, surrounded by the plain-clothes policemen about to throw him in jail. We wrote that day that despite the fact that there was not enough judicial evidence, Dominique Strauss-Kahn was "already condemned by the media and the political class….already severely and ruthlessly punished."

Three months later, the judicial outcome of the American part of the DSK case confirms that initial commentary beyond what we could have expected. The New York prosecutor has decided to close the case because he couldn't say for certain before a jury that the alleged victim's accusations are true. However, he doesn't clear DSK completely. He only recognizes that the inconsistencies found throughout the investigation in the alleged victim's version of the story won't enable him to convince 12 jurors about Nafissatou Diallo's good faith version of events, beyond a reasonable doubt.

According to the prosecutor's report, with no witnesses and no concrete evidence, nobody, except DSK and Diallo, will know whether "the rapid sexual encounter" between the two that took place on May 14th in the IMF Director's suite at the Sofitel hotel in New York was forced or consensual. If the prosecutor's recommendations are followed, Dominique Strauss-Kahn will finally be allowed to leave the US, but won't be cleared of Diallo's accusations.

Such an outcome will inevitably spark further French criticism of the U.S. judicial system. We can hope that after this case, Americans will have a different view of the barbaric practice of the "perp walk," when suspects are paraded before news cameras. DSK's walk of shame had shocked French people and even prompted the Mayor of New York Michael Bloomberg to blast the practice. But, generally speaking, the accusatory American judicial system worked.

To Strauss-Kahn, as we have said, the lesson is a ruthless one. The scandal pushed him to resign as IMF Director under the spotlight of slander. It compromised for good his chance to run for the French presidency in 2012, and brought out in the open certain aspects of his personality, as well as his relationship with women and money. Like most French politicians, he thought the respect for privacy held so dearly in France would protect him.

The media frenzy around Dominique Strauss-Kahn undoubtedly played a key role in his fall. On both sides of the Atlantic, there are unfortunately many such examples. But in the end, the heart of the matter rests with Strauss-Kahn himself. Like Bill Clinton, whose presidency was tarnished by the Lewinsky case, DSK is above all the victim of his own imprudence.

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