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The Strange Argument That Dominique Strauss-Kahn Was Set Up

A story in the New York Review of Books and the Financial Times paints a new picture, but it may raise more questions than answers.

It is, apparently, far easier to believe many things — or at least to suggest them — than it is to believe that Dominique Strauss-Kahn sexually assaulted a maid at the Sofitel in New York on May 14.

That includes believing, for example, that there is a conspiracy afoot that all of Strauss-Kahn’s resources and lawyers and investigators have been unable to definitively unearth, but that Edward Jay Epstein,  writing in the New York Review of Books and the Financial Times, can help us glimpse, even if he won’t spell it out entirely. (The criminal case against DSK collapsed because of the prosecutor’s doubts about the accuser’s credibility; her civil case is pending.)

The problems begin with the passive headline, “What happened to Dominique Strauss-Kahn?” and the declaration that “May 14, 2011, was a horrendous day” for DSK. It cannot be denied that it’s very unpleasant to be arrested for sexual assault and attempted rape, even for a man less famous than DSK. But you could also argue that it’s even more unpleasant to be allegedly sexually assaulted by a wealthy and powerful man, which is Nafissatou Diallo’s side of the story.

Why should we believe that something happened to DSK as opposed to him doing something? Epstein never offers a coherent alternative theory of what happened at the Sofitel, only an exhaustive timeline, a diagram and a series of mysterious details that may add up to nothing at all. Those details include Diallo visiting another room after the encounter, with no details known about its occupant; the Sofitel’s unexplained delay in calling the police, and a silent victory dance of three men caught on camera.

The timeline reveals that the encounter took place in a time frame of six to seven minutes — just after Diallo entered the room, just before DSK chatted on the phone with his daughter. (The piece doesn’t ask the coarser, biologically puzzling question of how a 62-year-old man was able to initiate and complete the act so quickly.) Epstein doesn’t mention injuries logged in a medical report cited by Diallo’s lawyers (DSK’s lawyers  contested it, saying the injuries described were self-reported or could have been from consensual sex), but he does mention how tall she is. (She is taller than DSK.)

What happened in those six to seven minutes besides DSK’s semen getting mixed with Diallo’s mouth? He has never had to publicly offer an explanation, even if he can’t deny it happened. Maybe she was irresistibly seduced by him in those minutes. Maybe a transaction was negotiated, except that Diallo’s lawyers were confident enough that it wasn’t to sue the New York Post for libel after it printed anonymous reports that Diallo was working as a prostitute. Or maybe he sexually assaulted and tried to rape her. As hard as these things are to imagine in a world of mysterious victory dances, they do happen. Even to women who get confused about the timeline, or who have lied about rape to get a green card.

Epstein makes much of the disappearance of DSK’s IMF BlackBerry. A “researcher” at the rival party who somehow has reliable access to such information has told DSK by text (to which Epstein inexplicably has access too) “that at least one private email he had recently sent from his BlackBerry to his wife, Anne Sinclair, had been read at the  UMP offices in Paris. It is unclear how the  UMP offices might have received this email, but if it had come from his  IMF BlackBerry, he had reason to suspect he might be under electronic surveillance in New York.” Except that there was no need to have DSK surveilled in New York in order to access his email — an enterprising hacker could have hacked into the server without any access to the physical device.

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