French See Case Against Strauss-Kahn as American Folly

The stunning reversals in the criminal case against Dominique Strauss-Kahn, a putative French presidential candidate, have reawakened a dormant anti-Americanism here, fueled by a sense that the raw, media-driven culture of the United States has undermined justice and fair play.

There was shock in France after the arrest of Mr. Strauss-Kahn in May and intense criticism of the manner in which he was displayed in handcuffs, pulled unshaven into a televised court session and stuffed into a Rikers Island cell under suicide watch. There was confusion and criticism over the glee with which the New York tabloids in particular highlighted every humiliation and turned to clichés about the French ”” “Chez Perv” and “Frog Legs It” ”” in the coverage. And there was a sense that it was not just Mr. Strauss-Kahn who was being so jauntily humiliated, but France itself.

Read it all.


Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Europe, France, Law & Legal Issues

17 comments on “French See Case Against Strauss-Kahn as American Folly

  1. Pageantmaster Ù† says:

    What we saw of the American judicial system on display in the early days of the Strauss-Kahn case was decidedly underwhelming. Nevertheless Mr Strauss-Kahn is not out of the woods yet, it would appear. While prosecution may well not proceed in the US, back in France it appears rape charges are being considered brought on a French writer’s complaint. Oddly though this relates to an incident 8 years ago, and query any limitation period in French law on bringing prosecutions.

  2. carl says:

    It’s kind of ironic that France should be beating up the bluest of Blue State America in this controversy. There isn’t a part of this country that is more compatible with France in terms of values and morals than NYC. Just goes to show that no matter what we Americans do – no matter how closely we tack to the shifting European winds – we will never be European. We will always be colonial barbarians.

    What this really indicates is that its bad to be a high-profile celebrity accused of a sex crime – especially when you have a history. Those cases attract media attention like a corpse attracts flies. In any case, the ‘harsh’ American justice system seems to have undermined the case against him.

    I don’t think France has ever really recovered from the idea that the Lingua Franca is now English. The French Idee Fixe is that France is supposed to be the center of world civilization. They look at us as Usurpers of their rightful status. We look at them as the country the heroically shaved the heads of women to expiate their collective collaboration with the Germans.


  3. Pageantmaster Ù† says:

    We look on them as the country that produces fabulous food and wine as well as the place closest to us to have a great holiday. More recently we have begun to see them as our brothers in arms. Like us, they are far from perfect, but at their best, the French are just outstanding. That is la gloire de la France.

  4. Pageantmaster Ù† says:

    However, we look on the States, and Canada for that matter as our cousins. We also see them with gratitude as those who came to our aid in our time of need, as do many of the particularly older generation French, although they are a proud people, and have trouble admitting it.

  5. Cennydd13 says:

    France has many things to be proud of, but Mr Strauss-Kahn isn’t one of them. If an American citizen……especially if he were a potential candidate for the presidency……were to be accused of a similar offense in France, what kind of treatment would he receive?

  6. Pageantmaster Ù† says:

    #5 Cennydd
    You are quite right – Americans are lucky that their politicians like Bill Clinton are a model of moral probity and an example of family values we can all look up to.

    As for the French legal system, it is sometimes a bit odd, but France is far from being a banana republic. I would hope an accused would get a fair hearing there. If anything where it comes to potential political embarrassment the French investigating magistrates are inclined to avoid the political, although they have finally got to grips with the corruption of of some of their former leaders.

  7. BlueOntario says:

    Not all of America think well of Mr. Clinton. Glam and cheap talk sells throughout the world, including, unfortunately, in American politics.

  8. Catholic Mom says:

    The “perp walk” thing is outrageous and should be found to be unconstitutional. Everything else in this matter was done perfectly. The guy was on a plane about to fly to a country that has no extradition with the U.S. and has been sheltering a child molester (Roman Polanski) from U.S. justice for decades. It was reasonable to arrest him immediately. In rather short order he was out on bail living in what amounts to a palace.

    Undisputed facts in the case are these:

    The two had never met before

    The maid was explicity told no one was in the room, so she didn’t go there with sex and/or blackmail in mind

    There is zero evidence (country to what a newspaper reported) that the maid had ever engaged in prostitution

    Within 20 minutes of her arrival, DSK had had sex with her.

    DSK refuses to say what happened — he expressly refuses to say he gave her money (which would be a crime in itself) but his lawyer says that “whatever” happened was consensual.

    By deduction, DSK either gave her money (no evidence she ever took money for sex before or was planning to this time, so this was a fast decision on her part) or raped her. Both are crimes and he’s admiting to neither. Only other remote possibility is that this woman came into the room expecting to clean it, saw DSK, and decided then and there to have consensual sex with him. By this very unlikely version DSK is not a criminal, merely a very rich man staying in a $3,000 per night suite who uses poor women like toilet paper and then walks out the door smiling to have lunch with his daugher and fly home to his fabulous wealthy and extremely accomodating wife. Just the guy you’d want to elect president.

  9. Cennydd13 says:

    Yeah, he’s a real piece of work, isn’t he? A real peach!

  10. Pageantmaster Ù† says:

    #8 Catholic Mom
    I don’t think we have the right to assume any of that or make any of the deductions you have. It all rests on the quality of the witness evidence, and that is in doubt. All we know is that the maid had previously made an unfounded allegation of rape to obtain immigration status, and had telephoned a drug dealer in prison to talk about ways of making money out of the situation.

    Who knows what the truth of it all is, but DSK is entitled to, and to be treated as if he had, the presumption of innocence until a lawful determination otherwise. I hope you and I would have the same in any Court.

  11. Catholic Mom says:

    Pageantmaster: Not true that we can’t assume the things I stated.

    After intensive investigation — and even after uncovering all manner of lies on the part of the maid — interviews with hotel staff, checking of hotel videos and automatic electronic recording of key use [door lock opening and closing times] and DNA analysis of semen found on the floor and on the maid’s clothing, the following is known:

    Hotel management says that they told the maid that DSK had left the room and that therefore she could go in there. [Maids go to the rooms they are directed to. Management would not knowingly direct a maid to an occupied room. Management testifies they told her to go there.] She had no reason to believe, therefore, that DSK was in there. In fact, she had good reason to believe the opposite.

    Key use evidence shows she had never been in that room before during DSK’s stay. Almost certainly therefore she had never met him before nor does either side claim that she ever had.

    Total stay of the maid in the room from the time that key evidence shows she opened the door until DSK checked out was 20 minutes.

    DNA analysis of semen shows DSK’s semen on her clothing and on the rug where she said she spit it out. DSK’s lawyers explanation is that they had “consensual” sex. He refuses to say if it was paid for or not.

    After massively publicized investigation, no evidence has been found that she ever engaged in any form of prostitution before. She was a maid in the hotel and had constant access to the means and opportunity to do so, yet not one person has testified that she ever did.

    Therefore, either:
    1. She suddenly decided to go into the business
    2. She suddenly decided DSK was irresistably attractive
    3. She was raped.

    There is only one alternative. On the spot, the minute she saw DSK she decided to have sex with him and then falsely accuse him (reason unknown — perhaps to sue him). Yet one of the things that is used against her now — that she *may* have gone on to clean another room before reporting the rape — argues against this. If you’re planning to fake a rape, you should begin screaming “rape” as soon as the guy’s elevator doors close. In a real rape, people are often so shook up that they take hours (or days) to report it.

    All these are facts (or as much fact as anyone can reasonably know about anything).

    She claimed she was gang raped to get asylum in the U.S., not to initiate a false prosecution of anyone. Bad choice of lies, but it is extremely common, that being one of the things that U.S. considers in an asylum request based on likelihood of “persecution” in ones home country.

    In the recorded conversation in which she discusses the possibility of getting money out of DSK she does not indicate in any way shape or form that her accusation of rape is false. Only that she thinks she can maybe sue him. Since he is currently suing her, the thought that civil suit might be brought against someone who you believe has harmed you is apparently not unique to her.

    The prosecutor turned over everything remotely harmful to his case to the defense as soon it was uncovered.

    What exactly are the French complaining about?

    DSK should never have been arrested? DSK should never have been charged?

    Is DSK innocent until proven guilty in a court of law? Of course. Did the U.S. attorney have very good reason to arrest and charge him and quite possibly still pretty good reason to prosecute him? Absolutely. The U.S. justice system has worked just about as perfectly as anyone could ever hope.

  12. Pageantmaster Ù† says:

    #11 Catholic Mom
    We cannot assume any of the above; none of it has been verified and tested in a court of law. DSK remains innocent of it all until convicted, and not before.

    Once someone has been shown to be willing to lie, their credibility goes, because you are unable to know or rely on what, or what parts, if any of their testimony is true. The maid it appears is not a credible witness, and the rest has not been tested.

    That is just the way it is, and I believe rightly so.

  13. Catholic Mom says:

    I agree that it’s up to a court of law to “test” the evidence. However, it is also up to a court of law to decide what you have just pronounced on your own — that the maid is not a “credible withness.”

    Arrests are based on “untested” evidence. There was a pile of it in this case.

  14. Catholic Mom says:

    The reason that upper-middle class adult women are so rarely raped by people who know them is that it is almost impossible to get away with it, the “credibility” of such women being almost always impeccable.

    Prostitutes, drug dealers, and illegal immigrants are notoriously easy to rape because they don’t want to draw attention to themselves and they have almost certainly lied repeatedly in the past.

    In this particular case there has been no investigation of DSK’s “credibility” because, having lawyered-up immediately, he has made absolutely no statement whatsoever. It has not come down to “he said/she said” because he refuses to say and I’ll bet anything that any defense in court will be entirely an attack on the maid and not an affirmative defense of his own actions. It’s working so far.

  15. Catholic Mom says:

    I should say “having lawyered up immediately after being told that he did not have “diplomatic immunity” as he first told the police.”

  16. Vatican Watcher says:

    Just for the record, the US and France do have an extradition treaty like almost all First World states. However, under the treaty between the US and France, France may choose to not extradite those holding French citizenship, of whom Roman Polanski is one and DSK is another.

  17. Catholic Mom says:

    True, but generally an extradition treaty is one which says that the sovereign parties involved will reciprocally extradite people charged with serious crimes (which they do not have to do under international law). A “treaty” that says “we’ll extradite foreigners but not our own people unless we feel like it” is not much of a treaty.

    A New York paper says today:

    [blockquote] Blame it on Roman Polanski.

    Initial prosecution concerns about Dominique Strauss-Kahn skipping bail — à la the infamous pedophile filmmaker — set in motion the hurried events that led to the international banker being indicted only four days after his arrest.

    “[Strauss-Kahn’s lawyers] begged them not to indict,” said one defense source.

    “Why put this into a grand jury before you have your ducks in a row?” the source said the banker’s lawyers asked. “Why commit your witnesses to testify under oath? Why do this before you even have your forensics back?”

    Some six weeks later, the accuser’s credibility, and the case, have fallen apart, according to prosecution and defense sources.

    But prosecutors were adamantly against taking any risk that Strauss-Kahn would abscond, as Polanski did in 1978, fleeing to France hours before being sentenced for having sex with a 13-year-old girl during a photo shoot.

    France has no extradition agreement with the United States, Chief Assistant DA Daniel Alonso reminded Manhattan Criminal Court Judge Melissa Jackson in asking, successfully, for the extraordinary step that Strauss-Kahn be held without bail. [/blockquote]

    Another paper points out that it has been routinely reported that there is no extradition treaty with France, which is not technically true. It’s just that the treaty is worthless. This paper says the excessive bail asked for was clearly unconsitutional but that it and the three days DSK sat in Riker’s Island would not have been necessary had there been a decent extradition treaty. They suggest, tongue in cheek, that the first thing DSK do if/when he returns to France is to negotiate. one.