There's been a lot of speculation this week about what last Friday's startling developments in the Dominique Strauss-Kahn case would mean for the career of Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance. Today, the embattled head prosecutor got a boost from an important source: His predecessor, former Manhattan District Attorney Robert M. Morgenthau. The legendary prosecutor, who in his 35 years as district attorney prosecuted John Lennon killer Mark David Chapman, and reportedly inspired the show Law and Order, stood by his successor and the prosecution team, most of whom he hired. Here's the bulk of what he wrote:
Following the indictment of Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the District Attorney’s staff continued to investigate the facts of the case, the defendant, and the complainant. The prosecutors assigned to this matter are among the most senior and experienced in the District Attorney’s Office. I should know – I hired them. Their investigation, in relatively short order, uncovered disturbing facts that called into question the credibility and veracity of the complainant. This information was promptly made available to the Court, defense counsel, and counsel to the complaining witness. The investigation continues, and I am confident that any additional information relating to the case will be promptly turned over to the appropriate parties. And, I am equally confident that the District Attorney will make a principled decision whether or not to proceed with the case, based on the facts and the law, and only after he and his staff are satisfied that their investigation is complete.
The vote of confidence will surely be welcomed by Vance's office as Strauss-Kahn's prosecution becomes more and more difficult. First, there was the revelation that the complaining witness--the Sofitel hotel maid who said Strauss-Kahn tried to rape her on May 14--had lied about her background and some of the details of the alleged assault. Then yesterday, her personal counsel, Kenneth Thompson, sent a letter to Vance via his public relations firm, Sunshine Sachs, asking him to recuse his office from the case and appoint a special prosecutor. "Any suggestion that this office should be recused is wholly without merit," Vance's spokeswoman, Erin Duggan, responded in a terse statement. A representative from Sunshine Sachs didn't immediately return a call for comment, but we will of course update this story if they do.
It's clear is that the relationship between the district attorney's office and its star witness in this case has deteriorated severely. So far, however, Vance has said the prosecution will go forward. With Strauss-Kahn's lawyers ruling out a plea deal yesterday, Duggan said the office was "back to square one," investigating its evidence to see what kind of a case it could bring. The office does not want to throw the case out, Duggan said, echoing the statements Vance has made publicly.*
*Please Note: The last line of this story has been changed, per the request of Duggan, who objected to our characterization of an outright dismissal of the case as "off the table."