We do not pretend to know exactly what happened on the afternoon of May 14 at the Sofitel Hotel in Manhattan, in the $3,000-a-night suite of rooms occupied by Dominique Strauss-Kahn. We know that the wealthy and powerful former head of the International Monetary Fund is accused of sexually assaulting a hotel maid. We know that the woman’s story and evidence are compelling to prosecutors. We know, today, that Strauss-Kahn pleads not guilty.
Beyond that, we do not know much. We know only what other people want us to believe. Strauss-Kahn and his attorneys would have us believe that what occurred in the hotel room was consensual. By the end of the case, “it will be clear that there was no element of forcible compulsion in this case whatsoever,” Strauss-Kahn's attorney Ben Brafman said.
The maid and her attorneys say she will not back down. “The victim wants you to know that all of Dominique Strauss-Kahn's power, money and influence throughout the world will not keep the truth about what he did to her in that hotel room from coming out,” said Kenneth Thompson said.
We sympathize with the maid. We think, along with most of the rest of the world, that she is probably telling the truth. Because we think that, we would probably not be allowed to sit on the jury.
“Probably,” however, is not supposed to be enough to convict someone, in a U.S. court. We don’t know what happened at the Sofitel. We hope we will come to know, somehow, and that this case that now stands for what rich and powerful men can or cannot get away with in life becomes simpler and clearer. But we are not counting on it.