Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Ex-IMF chief case: Lawyers set for "humdinger"

The former head of the International Monetary Fund, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, was to be arraigned in a New York courtroom Monday on charges of sexually assaulting a housekeeper in a hotel last month.

Strauss-Kahn faces seven criminal counts. If convicted, he could face a 25-year prison sentence.

On "The Early Show" Monday, CBS News Chief Investigative Correspondent Armen Keteyian reported Strauss-Kahn pleaded not guilty.

Keteyian said the defense is going to attack the credibility of the woman who has accused Strauss-Kahn.

"That is the time-tested legal strategy," Keteyian said. "If they can paint her as a gold-digger, if they can undermine her personal history, that's the strategy. The big question, obviously, is whether they can do it."

DSK's DNA found on accuser's shirt

The people versus Dominique Strauss-Kahn is playing out like a real-life episode of "Law and Order," Keteyian remarked. The defendant is a 62-year-old political power broker and aspiring French president with a wealthy American wife. His accuser is a 32-year-old single mother from a tiny African village with an "unblemished" history of employment.

Peter Ward, president of the New York Hotel and Motel Trades Counsel, said of the accuser, "She's a person of tremendous character, a very diligent, hard working, cheerful person with an unblemished record."

The trial is setting up as a classic "he said/she said" case. Sources have confirmed to CBS News that DNA found on the hotel attendant's blouse matches that of Strauss-Kahn. His attorneys countered that any sexual contact was consensual while, at the same time, have hired a global security firm called Guidepost Solutions to dig into the background of the accuser.

Robert Gottlieb, a New York City defense attorney, said, "Digging into the background of the accuser, the alleged victim, is not only the right strategy, it's the essential strategy, it's the only strategy for any competent, good defense attorney."

The case also features a cast of high-powered lawyers. The Manhattan district attorney recently added two of his most experienced prosecutors to the case. They'll square off against two of the city's most prominent defense attorneys.

"This is going to be a humdinger," Gottlieb said. "This is going to be a very vigorously-fought trial, and let a jury make the final decision."

In keeping with the sensational storyline, Keteyian observed, following the alleged incident at Sofitel Hotel in Manhattan on May 19, Strauss-Kahn was freed on a $1 million cash bail and $5 million bond. He's now holed up in a $50,000 a month, 6,800-square foot luxury rental in New York's trendy Tribeca neighborhood. The residence is currently on the market for $14 million. Keteyian added Strauss-Kahn is also paying a reported $200,000 a month for 24-hour surveillance and security.

Source: CBS News

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