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DA: Why I dropped Strauss-Kahn case

The prosecutor who charged Dominique Strauss-Kahn with sexually assaulting a hotel maid said he dropped the case because he ultimately was not sure what transpired between the two.

Manhattan district attorney Cyrus Vance dropped the sensational case against the former leader of the International Monetary Fund in August.

Prosecutors noted then in court papers that the decision reflected doubts about the woman's overall credibility, not "factual findings" about what had occurred in Mr Strauss-Kahn's hotel suite in May.

"I determined that I was no longer convinced beyond a reasonable doubt that I knew what happened - not that something didn't happen, but whether we, as an office, knew beyond a reasonable doubt what happened," Mr Vance said at a law firm forum. "We did not have that quantum of confidence."

Mr Vance's comments were one of the few times he has publicly answered questions about the case. His planned news conference shortly after the case's dismissal was abandoned abruptly when an earthquake rattled Manhattan and the DA's office was evacuated just as he started speaking.

Mr Strauss-Kahn, 62, was the head of the IMF and a likely French presidential candidate when hotel housekeeper Nafissatou Diallo told authorities he had forced her to perform a sex act and tried to rape her in his Manhattan hotel suite last May.

Mr Strauss-Kahn was pulled off a Paris-bound plane, arrested and jailed for several days before being released to house arrest. He resigned from the IMF within days. Mr Strauss-Kahn, who is married, acknowledges an inappropriate sexual encounter but insists there was no violence.

He was freed without bail about six weeks later, when prosecutors first revealed that they were losing faith in Ms Diallo's trustworthiness. They said she had not been truthful with them about her background and what she did right after the encounter. The DA's office investigated for several more weeks before asking a judge to dismiss the case.

"As a prosecutor, you have to follow facts as you have them, when you have them. When those facts change, you have to, as a responsible prosecutor, deal with" the changed outlook, Mr Vance told his audience at Stroock & Stroock & Lavan.

One of Mr Strauss-Kahn's lawyers, Benjamin Brafman, said that "what is important is that, ultimately, Cy Vance had the guts and integrity to dismiss the DSK case, a prosecution doomed to fail". Ms Diallo is adamant that she told the truth about her encounter with Mr Strauss-Kahn. One of her lawyers, Kenneth Thompson, has said Mr Vance's decision not to go forward with the case "denied an innocent woman a day in court". She is now pressing her claims in a lawsuit.

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