The decline in sexual assault reports after such high-profile cases strikes me as a myth, one similar to the long-debunked but persistent claim of increased domestic violence incidents on Super Bowl Sunday. But even if such a decline were verified, would these “experts” suggest that prosecutors charge and juries convict even people so manifestly innocent as were the Duke lacrosse players so as to avoid a chilling effect on the reporting of sexual assaults?
One writer who apparently thinks so is Hadley Freeman of the U.K.’s Guardian, who in the dismissal of charges against Strauss-Kahn sees a miscarriage of justice. “Maybe one day, in the pitiless light of hindsight,” she writes, “it will become clear why a woman’s false statements about her immigration status, made years ago, were deemed more pertinent to an accusation of attempted rape than the vaginal bruising she allegedly incurred during the encounter itself.”
But among other inaccuracies in the piece, Freeman’s reference to “vaginal bruising” misstates the evidence. From the motion to dismiss:
During her initial examination, the examiner noted no visible injuries to the complainant and documented that she had no trauma to her body or oral cavity. The only physical finding that the examiner noticed was “redness,” which was observed during the gynecological examination. The examiner could not say to a reasonable degree of medical certainty that this “redness” was a direct result of the incident, nor that it was even an injury or a bruise. The examiner stated that this finding could be attributed to the incident described by the complainant, but could be attributed to a host of other causes.
An opinion was solicited from a second expert on sexual assault, who “opined that although it was possible for the redness to have been caused by the defendant’s grabbing the complainant in the manner she had described, it was not likely caused by such an act.”
There is no doubt that there was a sexual encounter between Strauss-Kahn and Diallo in suite 2806 of the Sofitel hotel on May 14, 2011. Forensic evidence to that effect is unambiguous. And, contrary to the claims of those who say the authorities didn’t believe Diallo’s allegations against a prominent man, everything police and prosecutors did from the moment she reported the incident and through the indictment and subsequent investigation indicates they believed her, the lowly immigrant hotel maid, over the protestations of the rich and powerful accused. Only when Diallo was revealed to be a liar regarding so many aspects of the incident and her own background did prosecutors reach the only possible conclusion: that the charges could not be sustained on her testimony and therefore should be dismissed.
Strauss-Kahn’s supporters on both sides of the Atlantic take the decision as a vindication, as though there is no shame in a married man’s admitting to the briefest of sexual assignations with the help, one that involved, even seen in the light most favorable to him, no more romance or courtship than one sees in a pair of rutting animals.
Dominique Strauss-Kahn may not be a criminal, but he is no gentleman, either. Maybe that doesn’t matter in France, but it matters here in America. Or at least it used to. And if it doesn’t anymore, what a shame that is.