Cyrus Vance, the Manhattan district attorney, had little choice but to drop the criminal charges against Dominique Strauss Kahn.
While there is no question that whatever happened in the Hotel Sofitel room that day included sex, there is reasonable doubt that force was involved, which is the maid's assertion, and physical force is required for a charge of forcible rape. To accuse someone of rape is immensely serious, and must result in the most severe penalties. When a woman is psychologically coerced to comply with a man's advances that does not meet the criteria of forcible rape. Period.
It was a grave mistake on the part of the Manhattan district attorney to rush to judgment based on any one person's story. In this case, it was the maid's story. The defendant wasn't even able to utter a sound before trial by media resulted in his having to give up control of the IMF, and forget about any presidential aspirations he may have had.
Apparently, this was not the first time this woman claimed she was raped. As the prosecution contends, there were many inconsistencies in her story.
While those who say that it was up to a jury to render a decision on her credibility, beyond reasonable doubt, the defendant was held, and treated like a criminal, without being given even a fleeting benefit of the doubt. That is unacceptable.
Mr. Strauss-Kahn will return to Paris where he will face other charges which, while also questionable, will certainly raise serious questions about his mental stability, at the very least, as well as whether or not he is fit to hold public office. He is seriously sleazy, but seriously sleazy is not the same as rapist.
The allegations of the Sofitel maid must not be dismissed altogether. The issue of psychological coercion, of having someone in a position of authority command one to perform sex acts with the inference that if one doesn't perform them it will mean losing one's job, must also be addressed.
Any relief this woman will have will result in a civil settlement. If, as it appears, her motive was to accuse a wealthy, and highly visible public figure of something that might destroy his career and, when that fails, go after him in a civil action, she has succeeded in her mission. That said, while the charges against Strauss-Kahn may be dismissed, one must not dismiss the maid completely, and instead examine just how rampant sexual harassment in the workplace is, as well as how to contain it.