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Oh we’re gonna wade into some divisive territory today. The former head of the International Monetary Fund, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, was accused of sexually assaulting a maid at a Manhattan hotel a few months back. A powerful man at home in front of the media and on the world stage, was now tabloid staple with photos of his so-called “perp walk” splashed on covers round the world. Everyone had an opinion and salacious details were fodder for the news shows’ talking heads.
Now, three months later, charges against Strauss-Kahn have been dropped because prosecutors lost faith in the accuser’s testimony. In a public statement, Strauss-Kahn called the three months since his arrest, “a nightmare for me and my family.” So now, everyone is left to put the pieces of their lives back together. Sexual assault is nothing to joke about, nothing to whisper about, nothing to falsely accuse someone of. And before you get nuts, I’m not saying that his accuser, Nafissatou Diallo, lied. But what if she did? Should there be repercussions for such an act?
I only ask because I have known two men who were falsely accused of sexual harassment, which is obviously different from assault. Both were eventually cleared, but their careers were in ruins, all because of an accusation. They “won” their cases, but hardly felt like celebrating. Sexual assault/harassment charges have to be taken very seriously. But in the case with the men I knew, their accusers were bitter women, hellbent on ruining lives. That they did, and possibly made proving future cases that much harder.
So now what? Strauss-Kahn resigned as head of the IMF after these charges surfaced. Prior to this, he was seen as a leading candidate for the French presidency. Will he be able to resume his political career? And what of his accuser? Diallo’s attorney worries this dismissal sends the wrong message about accusing powerful men of a crime. But at the end of the day, there are only two people who truly know what happened in that hotel room that night; the rest of us are left to piece it together based on the evidence, which clearly wasn’t enough in this case.
Let’s talk about this. Do you think there should be repercussions if someone lies about being raped? How do those accused but not convicted, begin to put their lives back together? Have you or do you know of anyone who’s ever been falsely accused of a crime? What was that like? Okay let’s debate!