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DA looks at options for IMF chief case

Prosecutors may have to drop the case against Dominique Strauss-Kahn.


NEW YORK — At first, prosecutors said their sexual assault case against Dominique Strauss-Kahn was growing more formidable by the day. Six weeks later, they said his accuser’s history of lying raised major red flags, but they weren’t dropping the case, at least for now.

With the former International Monetary Fund leader freed from house arrest because the case has weakened, prosecutors aren’t saying what their next move may be.

Some legal experts say prosecutors will all but have to abandon the case because of the damage to the accuser’s overall credibility, even if they believe Strauss-Kahn attacked the woman, a housekeeper at a New York City hotel where he was staying. Still, at least one former high-level prosecutor thinks the case isn’t doomed.

For now, Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr. is saying only that prosecutors will keep investigating “until we have uncovered all relevant facts.

“As a former sex crimes prosecutor myself, I wouldn’t want to try this case,” said Allison Leotta, until recently an assistant U.S. attorney in Washington, D.C., where the federal lawyers act as local prosecutors.

The hotel maid told authorities that Strauss-Kahn forced her to perform oral sex and tried to pull down her pantyhose after she arrived to clean his suite May 14. Her lawyer, Kenneth Thompson, said Friday that Strauss-Kahn injured her in a violent attack.

Strauss-Kahn’s lawyers say anything that happened between the two wasn’t forced.

Authorities initially called the 32-year-old woman credible. But prosecutors now say she lied to them about her background — including by fabricating an account of having been gang-raped in her native Guinea — and didn’t tell a grand jury she had gone on cleaning rooms for a time before alerting her supervisor about the attack. She also has fudged on tax forms to keep subsidized housing, they said.

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