None of this makes the semen or the bruises go away. Prosecutors say there’s still evidence to suggest that the encounter was coercive. Maybe. But it would be a travesty to send anyone to jail based on the evidence we’ve seen so far. On Friday, I still thought Strauss-Kahn was guilty. Today, I don’t. And that was before the New York Post leaked the defense team’s allegations that the accuser received “extraordinary tips” of a suggestive nature. That, too, can presumably be checked.
Already, there are cries of concern that if the case disintegrates, it will destroy the credibility of rape victims or immigrants, while powerful abusers will go free. That’s the wrong conclusion. The unraveling of the Strauss-Kahn prosecution is a victory for justice, because investigators found ways to check the accuser’s credibility. Other accusers will pass such tests. This one didn’t. What the collapse of this case proves is that it’s possible to distinguish true rape accusations from false ones—and that the government, having staked its reputation on an accuser’s credibility, diligently investigated her and disclosed her lies. The system worked.