Who set up Dominique Strauss-Kahn?
International tabloids billed the news as a monumental scandal, but months after the case exploded, the allegations dissolved and fizzled to nothing.
Or maybe not.
According to writer Edward Jay Epstein, there is a large likelihood that the since-dismissed charges against DSK were part of a vast, international conspiracy — and he has the documentation to back up his case. In a piece published this week in the New York Review of Books, Epstein goes over hotel records, telephone correspondence and court files to try to make sense of the case against DSK.
From May 14, 2011 until only recently, Strauss-Kahn was embroiled in a heated legal dispute with Nafissatou Diallo, a maid at the posh Sofitel New York hotel. Diallo had attested the DSK sexually assaulted her in his presidential suite that afternoon, but after months of investigation, prosecution had no choice but to dismiss the case after declaring the maid’s account discreditable. DNA samples found in Strauss-Kahn’s room confirm that something sexual did indeed happen between the two parties, but DSK declared it consensual at the time. The following few months launched a he-said-she-said back-and-forth that dissolved once Diallo was found unreliable by prosecutors; but now Epstein insists that there was more to the case than just a chambermaid’s made-up tale of rape.
Of the events of May 14 that made it to the papers, Epstein now writes that some of the more mysterious of incidents largely went unreported.
For starters, Strauss-Kahn was warned earlier that morning that personal correspondence from his Blackberry cell phone had been mysteriously forwarded into the hands of French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who DSK was expected to run against in the 2012 elections. Upon hearing the news, Strauss-Kahn contacted people to have his phone examined for any tinkering that could have been carried out once he made it to Paris later that day, though only two hours later his phone was gone.
Experts say that whoever found DSK’s phone managed to quickly disable the GPS signal from it and investigators have to this day not recovered the phone. Strauss-Kahn contacted the Sofitel hotel once he realized the phone had gone missing that afternoon. At that point the police had already become involved in the supposed sex crime and when DSK called back the Sofitel a second time, hotel security confirmed that they had the phone. On the contrary, they did not (or at least never turned it over).
Coincidently, the head of security for Accor, the company that owns the hotel, was out enjoying a soccer match with President Sarkozy that very afternoon. That same afternoon, Xavier Graff, the duty officer at the Accor Group in Paris, said via email, “bringing down DSK.” Though Graff later called the correspondence a joke, he lost his position at Accor.
According to the documentation obtained by Epstein, a conspiracy involving Diallo and the staff of Sofitel, Accor and Sarkozy causes suspicion that this was more than just a case to exhort money from the wealthy DSK, as prosecutors originally had considered. Diallo had discussed in the days after the incident with an imprisoned pal how much money could be made through a settlement and offered several false testimonies. Now, however, Epstein reveals that the chambermaid also lied to the court about her whereabouts immediately before and after the incident, and hotel records confirm that she went in and out of a nearby Sofitel suite that day, possibly while the room was occupied by someone else — although she told prosecutors that this wasn’t the case.
Diallo also reentered DSK’s own room after the encounter, which time stamps reveal could have lasted no longer than seven minutes.
With DSK slated to pose heavy competition for Sarkozy in the election until the scandal led to charges, house arrest and an international scandal, was the French president involved in a vast conspiracy to keep Strauss-Kahn from usurping him from office? His office doesn’t think so.
"It is complete fantasy!" Claude Gueant, the French Interior Minister and former chief of staff to Sarkozy, tells BBC.
“What is the point? So DSK lost his phone. Just because he lost his phone, it doesn't mean there is conspiracy,” he says.
Epstein, on the other day, begs to differ. “Whatever happened to his phone, and the content on it, his political prospects were effectively ended by the events of that day,” he writes.