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Strauss-Kahn Free To Go After Judge Dismisses Sexual Assault Case

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Former International Monetary Fund head Dominique Strauss-Kahn is now a free man after a Manhattan judge dismissed the highly publicized sexual assault case against him on Tuesday.

The French politician arrived at court with his wife, lawyers and private security team just after 11:30 a.m.

Moments before his appearance, Judge Michael Obus denied the request for a special prosecutor, saying, "In the light of the circumstances of this case, the court concludes that nothing called to its attention establishes disqualification or warrants removal of the elected district attorney of this county. Accordingly, the application is denied in all respects."

Manhattan prosecutors informed Strauss-Kahn's accuser of their decision on Monday.

Nafissatou Diallo claims Strauss-Kahn attacked her at the Sofitel Hotel in May.

In a 25-page court filing, the Manhattan District Attorney's Office acknowledged the evidence of a sexual encounter but said they lacked proof of force and lack of consent.

The district attorney's office said questions about the victim's credibility made it impossible to prosecute the case.

"Our inability to credit her version should in no way suggest that we in any way condone the defendants behavior," said Assistant District Attorney Joan Illuzzi-Orbon.

"The law in our country requires a high standard of proof for conviction in criminal cases. To deprive a defendant of his liberty, guilt has to be proven beyond a reasonable doubt," said Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr., before his news conference was cut short by the earthquake.

Vance later released a statement later in the day, adding, "After a careful and deliberative review of all the evidence, this team followed the facts where they led, and had to make a decision. I believe the decision we made is absolutely the right one, legally and ethically."

Speaking outside his Manhattan townhouse, Strauss-Kahn said the past few months have been a "nightmare" for his family, and thanked those who believed in his innocence.

Strauss-Kahn's lawyers said the alleged sexual encounter was consensual and that Vance made the right choice.

"This was a courageous decision on his part, one for which he will receive, I think, some criticism, but only by people who don't bother to read the dismissal on record," said Strauss-Kahn's attorney, Benjamin Brafman. "If you read the dismissal on record, the reason for dismissal was clear and compelling. Cy Vance, as an ethical officer of the court, had no choice but to do what he did. Nevertheless, it took a great deal of lot of guts."

Diallo's attorney, Kenneth Thompson, criticized Vance, saying he turned his back on the forensic, medical and other physical evidence in the case.

"District Attorney Vance has abandoned an innocent woman and has denied an innocent woman the right to get justice in a rape case. And by doing so he has also abandoned other women who will be raped in the future or sexually assaulted," Thompson said.

Thompson did ask the courts to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate the case but that motion was denied.

Diallo has filed a civil suit against Strauss-Kahn.

The scene outside the courthouse was chaotic, given the large number of international reporters and protesting women's advocates who were present.

Before his arrest, Strauss-Kahn was widely considered a potential contender to be the next French president.

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