In New York, the sordid drama surrounding Dominique Strauss-Kahn’s arrest for sex crimes gets more and more sordid…and damning. Today the New York Times reported:
But prosecutors last week contended that while the investigation was in its early stages, the evidence against Mr. Strauss-Kahn “is substantial” and “continues to grow every day.”
“The complainant in this case has offered a compelling and unwavering story about what occurred in the defendant’s room,” the prosecutor in the case, Artie McConnell, said. “She made immediate outcries to multiple witnesses, both to hotel staff and to police.”
The Times says in the same article that tests confirmed that the DNA found on the housekeeper’s uniform belongs to DSK. His lawyers say that the DNA supports their client’s claim of innocence because it is “not consistent with a forcible encounter,” which makes absolutely no sense unless you believe that rapists don’t ejaculate.
Further details of DSK’s time in New York have also come to light, including that he tried at various times to lure other Sofitel employees to his suite (none of them took him up on it). And just minutes before police hauled DSK off the Air France flight—only a couple hours after the attack at the hotel—he reportedly made lewd comments about the “beau cul” of one of the flight attendants in business class. None of this makes him a rapist, of course, but it’s evidence of DSK’s boorishness, entitlement and total lack of boundaries around women. I have no trouble seeing him as the kind of guy who doesn’t hear “no.”
The French press has been wringing its hands about how barbarously DSK’s been treated by the US justice system, and I imagine they would also be chagrined by the way barbarous New Yorkers have treated him once he was released from jail. Because DSK couldn’t find a place to serve his house arrest, there was some question about whether the judge would release him from Rikers at all. Columbia University, which owns the grad school apartment where his daughter lives, would not let DSK stay there. Anne Sinclair, DSK’s famous broadcaster wife, had rented an apartment in an expensive building downtown, but residents of the building were up in arms about him holing up there—something Sinclair had clearly not anticipated. And really, why would she? She and DSK are used to getting whatever they want and living wherever they please (they own multiple spectacular residences in Paris and Marrakech). But Manhattanites will wage all-out scorched-earth campaigns to keep their exclusive apartments free of undesirables. DSK and Sinclair discovered that despite all their money and political influence, he was suddenly just as undesirable as every other accused violent criminal fresh out of Rikers (it certainly didn’t help that his every move was followed by a horde of photographers). At the last minute, the judge allowed him to be released when housing was found at a corporate apartment owned by Stroz Friedburg, the private security company in charge of monitoring his house arrest. It’s a hell of a come-down for a man who last month was considered a strong contender to be France’s next prime minister.
There have been numerous articles about how l’affaire DSK illustrates the cultural divide between the US and France, especially when it comes to treatment of women (like this article about why the French are so dismissive of sexual misconduct) and acceptable treatment of criminals (like this article about why the French are horrified by the perp walk.) The New York Times also ran a profile of Anne Sinclair that I found fascinating, as it touches on multiple issues of ethnicity, privilege, and what sounds to me like Sinclair’s long-running history of rationalizing her husband’s infidelity and reputation as a sexual predator. I still think the justice system is working quite well in this case, and despite the usual round of bullshit from rape apologists, I’ve been pleased to see how little victim-blaming we’ve seen in the media. I’ve also been pleased by the public disgust aimed at the French media’s expectation that DSK should get some kind of special treatment because of his fame and money. Rapists with money and influence—or even just the privilege of being male in a rape culture—get away with rape all the time. This case shines some light on that phenomenon simply because—so far, at least—it’s the exception to the rule.