Strauss-Kahn lawyers to probe maid's personal life

8th June 2011, Comments 0 comments

Lawyers for Dominique Strauss-Kahn intend to investigate the hotel maid accusing the former IMF chief of attempted rape for evidence of behavioral problems, court documents show.

In a nine-page letter to prosecutors, the defense attorneys give insight into their strategy with a list of demands for access to evidence collected against Strauss-Kahn, who is awaiting trial under house arrest after posting a $6 million bail and bond.

Citing "sensitive" information, they also seek to have prosecutors barred from accessing emails and phone messages sent to cell phones and an iPad confiscated from Strauss-Kahn following his shock detention on an Air France plane set to leave New York for Paris on May 14.

The "demand for discovery" document was filed Monday with Judge Michael Obus, the same day that Strauss-Kahn pleaded not guilty to seven counts of sex crimes, including attempted rape, against a 32-year-old woman cleaning his suite at the Manhattan Sofitel.

One request is for evidence of any prosecution witness "suffering from any physical or mental disability, emotional disturbance, drug addiction, or alcohol addiction."

The attorneys, William Taylor and Benjamin Brafman, also demand to know whether any defense witness has immigration problems or is seeking payments through a civil lawsuit.

Although there is no specific reference to the maid, an immigrant from west Africa, the lawyers' demands clearly align with hints that they intend to attempt to undermine her credibility and claim that any sexual encounter was consensual.

Legal experts say the defense, led by Brafman, would pounce on any attempt by the maid to extract compensation from the wealthy Strauss-Kahn, since this could be cast as giving her financial motivation to make a false accusation.

She has hired a lawyer, Kenneth Thompson, with a successful record of multi-million dollar payouts, but has not filed any separate civil claim for damages.

The attorneys ask to inspect all physical evidence, such as clothing belonging to Strauss-Kahn, "blood, hair, fibers or any other substance that may contain DNA," and video footage.

The defense is not expected to argue that no sexual encounter took place, given that police believe they have proof that an encounter of some kind did occur in the luxury Sofitel suite.

It remains unclear, however, whether any evidence has been found of violence, the absence of which would support Brafman's contention earlier this week that there was "no element of forcible compulsion."

The list of demands also includes access to prosecution interviews with witnesses at the Sofitel, Air France, and McCormick & Schmick's Seafood Restaurant -- apparently the establishment Strauss-Kahn lunched at immediately after the alleged assault.

Intriguingly, the lawyers ask to be told whether "evidence of uncharged criminal conduct is intended to be introduced against the defendant," an apparent reference to speculation that previous complaints about Strauss-Kahn's sexual behavior may be aired in court.

Particular emphasis is put on the defense attorney's insistence that certain messages stored on Strauss-Kahn's confiscated phones, iPad and Apple computer remain secret. The concerns are contained in a separate letter attached to the official "demand for discovery."

Some messages are "sensitive and confidential" and some phone messages and emails left after Strauss-Kahn's arrest "contain information concerning preparation of the defense that should not be heard by the District Attorney." sms/ag

© 2011 AFP

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