The maid who accused former IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn of sexual assault lied during her grand jury testimony, the Manhattan District Attorneys office revealed Friday.
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Based on that shocking revelation, Strauss-Kahn, once considered the front runner to be the next president of France, was released without bail.
According to the new information, the maid lied about her actions following the alleged sexual assault on May 14 at the upscale Sofitel Hotel in midtown Manhattan.
The acknowledgement by prosecutors that the maid offered false testimony to the grand jury now casts doubt on the rest of her allegations.
However, Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. said during a lunchtime press conference on the steps of the criminal courthouse in lower Manhattan that the charges against Strauss-Kahn remain in place. Strauss-Kahn still faces felony charges of attempted rape and sexual assault.
Vance said vaguely that his office is charged with finding the truth and that the investigation into the maids allegations would continue.
For Strauss-Kahn, those comments could be interpreted in two ways. If the investigation finds that the maid lied about the attack, he stands to be set free with all charges dropped. But if the investigation finds that the maid lied about things unrelated to the attack, the charges could stand and a trial deemed necessary.
Either way, the maids credibility has taken a severe hit and Strauss-Kahns defense attorneys will certainly suggest that if she lied about other things she could have lied about being attacked.
Despite the bombshell revelations, the maids attorney has continued to assert that a violent sexual assault occurred.
Strauss-Kahns attorneys have acknowledged that a sexual encounter took place, a position that allegedly has been verified by the forensic evidence, including DNA samples. But they say the encounter was consensual.
After hearing the new evidence, a judge agreed to let Strauss-Kahn go free and ordered his bail and bond returned.
"I understand that the circumstances of this case have changed substantially and I agree the risk that he would not be here has receded quite a bit. I release Mr. Strauss-Kahn at his own recognizance," Justice Michael Obus told the court, Reuters reported.
A few minutes later, Strauss-Kahn, clean shaven and dressed in a dark blue business suit, walked out of the courtroom into bright sunlight, his arm around his wife.
His next hearing is scheduled for July 18, at which time all the charges could be dropped if prosecutors feel their cases has deteriorated due to questions over the credibility of the alleged victim.
It was a stunning turn of events and the ramifications may be felt strongest in French politics.
After his arrest, Strauss-Kahn was forced to resign from his powerful position as head of the International Monetary Fund. While he never publicly addressed the issue, the charges also seemed to end his political career in France, just weeks before he had reportedly planned to announce a run against current president Nicolas Sarkozy.
The charges made headlines around the world, as did the revelations that emerged late Thursday night concerning the credibility of the maids allegations.
Reuters said Strauss-Kahn's supporters in the French Socialist Party were delighted Friday at the apparent reversal and that there is hope that he might still run.
The alleged victim, a 32-year-old Guinean immigrant who worked as a chambermaid reportedly for several years at the upscale hotel, said Strauss-Kahn emerged from the bathroom naked and then attacked her as she was cleaning the $3,000-a-night suite in which Strauss-Kahn was staying.