Friday, 26 August 2011
What Constitutes A 'Good Victim'?
It's not my intention to analyse the case of Dominique Strauss-Kahn who was accused of attempting to rape a hotel maid Nafissatou Diallo, although given the events since his arrest, it's little wonder the conspiracy theories have been numerous.
This week the case against him collapsed when his legal team filed papers stating: 'The nature and number of the complainant's falsehoods leave us unable to credit her version of events beyond a reasonable doubt, whatever the truth may be about the encounter between the complainant and the defendant.
'If we do not believe her beyond a reasonable doubt, we cannot ask a jury to do so.'
Ms Diallo's lawyer attacked the decision but was told by the that she had repeatedly lied to the defence. Initially the DA Cyrus Vance had supported Ms Diallo, calling her statement 'a compelling and unwavering story' which appeared to be backed by forensic evidence but Strauss-Kahn's defence lawyers said Vance had been too quick to bring charges and 'rushed ahead to indict him when they didn't have to'.
Pierre Hourcade, a French attorney who also practices law in New York said, 'Dismissal does not mean he is innocent, simply that the district attorney doesn't believe the case can go to trial.'
'It's not that he doesn't believe her, it's that he doesn't believe her to be a good victim. That's the way that the American system is built,' he continued.
What constitutes a good victim? Surely the woman should have the right to have her case heard in front of her peers regardless of unrelated issues.
Could the 'good victim' epithet become an essential part of criminal cases here? Sadly in the Chan family (see John Brown Cafe 2) the victim is dead. He was murdered. The police and Crown Office refuse to have a public enquiry. Unfortunately for Mr Chan's parents even the murder of their son doesn't make him a good victim.