Dominique Strauss-Kahn's appointment keeping may play a pivotal role in determining his guilt on the sexual assault charges that have kept him locked up in New York since Saturday. The French politician and former International Monetary Fund director's defense early on is that he was heading out to lunch with his daughter during the time he was alleged to be forcing himself on a maid at the Sofitel Hotel in Midtown. Surveillance video from the hotel's lobby shows him striding out in a hurry, notes the New York Daily News's Michael Daly.
Meanwhile, the New York Post quoted Ben Brafman, the famed criminal defense attorney, as stating at his arraignment hearing that Strauss-Kahn's encounter with the maid was not coerced: "The evidence, we believe, will not be consistent with a forcible encounter." The Post also quoted a "source close to the defense" as saying, "There may well have been consent." The Post's famously tasteless headline lingo makes it into the URL slug on the story as "Seduced and She Said Oui Oui."
As The Atlantic's Andrew Cohen points out, it's going to be this kind of hard evidence--the surveillance tapes, the physical evidence found in the room and on Straus-Kahn's body, the timing of the lunch date--that determines his guilt or innocence. "The shouting," as Cohen puts it, about diplomatic immunity, moral outrage, political conspiracy, must (and perhaps already has) fall by the wayside in a criminal case with such solid evidence available. "Right now, only 48 hours or so into this burgeoning international scandal, the people who know what is going on generally are not talking. And the people who are talking generally don't know what is going on."
That was true in the bar at the Sofitel Hotel on Monday evening. A bartender who seemed tired of opining on the case said, "What else is there to know? The breaking news is over." He waved his hand toward the hotel's main entrance, where two news vans kept a vigil. "It's stupid, you know? What are they even doing here?" But his recalcitrance did not deter a steady stream of curious customers who put in questions along with their drink orders.
"Have there been a lot of reporters through here?" one asked.
"About ten thousand," he said.
"Do they ask you questions?" asked another.
"Sure, I'll talk to anybody, but there's nothing to say."