Guilty from the Get Go…

I’ve been watching the ‘he said, she said’ fireworks with the Dominique Strauss-Kahn (DSK) case. In case you have been living under a rock and don’t know what this is, a maid in a Sofitel in New York has alleged that Mr. Strauss-Kahn – originally head of the IMF – sexually assualted her in his hotel room. He of course, denies these allegations.

Like an accident on the side of the road, I can’t help looking at this one. Not because a rich powerful man is being accused of assaulting a poor woman just doing her job. That story is as old as all ages. This case is different for me in that I find Nafissatou Diallo lacks credibility. Goodness knows, as a woman in particular, I feel the need to believe the woman caught in this type of scenario. But Ms. Diallo just doesn’t seem believable: the ever changing story, the taped conversation with a boyfriend in jail where she refers to ripping off DSK and her sudden appearances in the media, just as her case is on the verge of falling to pieces.
Regardless, as soon as DSK was arrested, his main life goal ended. He will never, despite the generally different and somewhat more lax view the French seem to have about these issues, become President of France. Guilty or not, the allegations were all it took. I can’t help wondering about the 24 hour media news cycle and its role in changing a fundamental reality. We should all be innocent until proven guilty. We should, if found innocent, be able to resume our lives. But that’s not longer possible. No matter how this case turns out, lives are fundamentally and negatively altered, based only on an allegation. It weakens the justice system, as the court of public opinion takes over and social media sets fire to any issue that is ‘trending’.
This reality puts fear into me about ever being accused of anything, knowing that the actual reality is less important than the perception of people at large. It’s a thought that crosses my mind every time we hire someone and every time I write something. Silly perhaps, and certainly not something I dwell on particularly given the fact that I am not a person of any real importance. But still, the thought, however fleeting, is there. How chilling.
I’m working on another piece, looking at it from Ms. Diallo’s point of view, or the view of anyone who is ‘out there’ because they have made an allegation. Stay tuned!
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