A zealous prosecutor could have—would have—exploited the racial element here, and the enormous status difference between the wealthy and powerful foreigner and the poor hotel worker. He could have counted on the weeks of vilification by the media, which had helped make Mr. Strauss-Kahn so hated a figure he could find no Manhattan apartment building whose upscale residents were willing to breathe the same air as this (now former) head of the IMF. A prosecutor could count on finding a jury so hostile to the accused, so sympathetic to the accuser, that they could understand—with the help of explanations—all her lies and her involvement with a drug dealer.

That prosecutor would have delivered a familiar message to the jury: Believe the accuser, however incredible, or be guilty of betraying the war against sex abusers and of violating the victim anew. Critics of the DA’s decision to remove the case from the Special Victims Unit indeed point out that the unit’s prosecutors would have had the expertise to deal with an accuser who was, like this one, “not perfect.”

That the man now in charge of the Manhattan DA’s office knows—and has shown that he knows—that the duty of a prosecutor is first and foremost to do justice, not to win cases, is something for which citizens can be grateful. They’ve not had a chance to witness such behavior terribly often.