Judge Dismisses Sex Assault Charges Against Strauss-Kahn

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The sex assault case against Dominique Strauss-Kahn took yet another legal turn on Tuesday, when a New York judge dismissed the charges -- but put the order on hold pending an appeal.

State Supreme Court Justice Michael Obus said he wouldn't dismiss the case until an appeal is decided on whether a special prosecutor should be appointed. That appeal was expected to be decided later Tuesday.

The former head of the International Monetary Fund appeared resolute in the courtroom, wearing a dark gray suit, blue shirt and a navy-and-gold striped tie, smiling and shaking hands with an audience member and his wife, journalist Anne Sinclair, sitting nearby. They left court without speaking to reporters but read a statement shortly afterward.

"These past two and a half months have been a nightmare for me and my family," he said. "I want to thank all the friends in France and in the United States who have believed in my innocence, and to the thousands of people who sent us their support personally and in writing. I am most deeply grateful to my wife and family who have gone through this ordeal with me. ...

"We will have nothing further to say about this matter and we look forward to returning to our home and resuming something of a more normal life," he said.

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He reiterated a statement in French outside the posh townhouse where he was held under house arrest for much of the summer.

Obus said he saw no reason not to dismiss the case. But noting that the accuser was still seeking to get a special prosecutor appointed, Obus said, "I am going to stay the effectiveness of the order I am about to enter."

Shortly before the hearing Obus had denied the request to appoint a special prosecutor, saying there was nothing that would disqualify Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance from heading the case.

Vance said in a statement that if prosecutors are not persuaded "beyond a reasonable doubt" that a crime was committed, they "cannot ask a jury to convict."

"This is because our job is to seek justice, not convictions at any cost," the statement said.

At Tuesday's hearing, prosecutor Joan Illuzzi-Orbon formally recommended the case be dismissed.

"Our inability to believe the complainant beyond a reasonable doubt means, in good faith, that we could not ask a jury to do that," she said.

Manhattan prosecutors had filed court papers a day earlier saying they did not feel comfortable going forward with the case, because they had deep concerns about the credibility of the maid, Nafissatou Diallo.

She "has not been truthful on matters great and small" and has an ability to present "fiction as fact with complete conviction," and medical and DNA evidence is "simply inconclusive" as proof of a forced sexual encounter, they wrote.

"Our grave concerns about (her) reliability make it impossible to resolve the question of what exactly happened" between the hotel maid and the former International Monetary Fund leader, they wrote.

The case captured international attention as a seeming cauldron of sex, violence, power and politics: A promising French presidential contender, known in his homeland as the Great Seducer, accused of a brutal and contemptuous attack on a West African immigrant who had come to clean his plush suite.

Seeking justice for sex crimes victims and protecting immigrants are top priorities for Vance's office, the statement said, "but every case rises and falls on its own merits, and we have to judge each case by its own unique set of facts."

The Associated Press contributed to this report