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Does hotel maid in Strauss-Kahn case need a defense lawyer, too?

Officials assert that the alleged victim in the sexual assault case against ex-IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn lied on her tax returns, asylum application, and on other occasions. Is she now in legal trouble?

By Ron SchererStaff writer / July 5, 2011

Former International Monetary Fund leader Dominique Strauss-Kahn leaves New York State Supreme court with his wife Anne Sinclair, Friday, in New York.

David Karp/AP


New York

The hotel chambermaid who accused Dominique Strauss-Kahn, ex-chief of the International Monetary Fund, of sexual assault may need a lawyer – and not just to sue him.

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Instead, she could be facing legal troubles of her own, ranging from immigration fraud to perjury to tax evasion. The district attorney's office in charge of prosecuting the case against Mr. Strauss-Kahn indicated last week that the alleged victim herself is a less-than-credible witness, enumerating instances of apparent untruthfulness.

Lawyers are divided over whether it would be good policy to prosecute someone who claims to be a victim of a sex crime. It could prevent other victims from coming forward because they wish to avoid such scrutiny, they say. Others, however, say some of the maid’s alleged transgressions “theoretically” could be prosecuted, especially because they are now so visible.

“It’s probably in her interest to have a defense attorney advising her, if she does not already,” says James Keneally, a partner with the law firm Kelley Drye & Warren in New York. “My guess is she does already."

On Tuesday, the housekeeper sued the New York Post for libel after the newspaper, citing anonymous sources, alleged she was collecting money from hotel guests for sexual services. “Defendants falsely, maliciously and with reckless disregard for the truth stated as a fact that the Plaintiff is a ‘prostitute,' ‘hooker,’ ‘working girl’ and/or 'routinely traded sex for money with male guests' of the Sofitel hotel located in Manhattan,” said the lawsuit.

The hotel maid's grand jury testimony remains sealed, so it's not known whether she lied under oath.

On Friday, Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance said there were enough doubts about her credibility as a witness to let Mr. Strauss-Kahn out of home confinement and with no bail. Defense lawyers are reported to be meeting Wednesday with Mr. Vance, who is said on the verge of dismissing the charges against the French politician.

Inconsistencies in the woman's account of the alleged attack and her own life occurred mainly during interviews at the District Attorney’s Office in Manhattan – some of which could expose her to new legal problems.


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