NEW YORK - (AP) - Former International Monetary Fund leaderDominique Strauss-Kahn walked out of court free without bail Fridayafter prosecutors said an extensive background investigation of thehotel housekeeper accusing him of sexual assault gave them pause.
The charges against Strauss-Kahn, which include attempted rape,have not been reduced, but the move signals that prosecutors do notbelieve the accusations are as ironclad as they once seemed.
He had been under pricey house arrest for weeks in a ritzyManhattan loft on $6 million in cash and bond.
The 32-year-old hotel maid accused Strauss-Kahn of chasing herthrough his luxury suite in May, trying to pull down her pantyhoseand forcing her to perform oral sex.
"It is a great relief," said Strauss-Kahn's attorney, WilliamTaylor, adding that the case underscores "how easy it is forpeople to be charged with serious crimes and for there to be a rushto judgment."
"It is so important in this country that people, especially themedia, refrain from judgment until the facts are all in," he said.
Strauss-Kahn arrived at the courthouse Friday morning in a LexusSUV and strode confidently up the granite steps with his wife,French journalist Anne Sinclair, at his side. He wore a dark graysuit, and she a white jacket.
After the hearing, he walked slowly out with his arm on hershoulder, smiling slightly at the throng gathered outside.
His passport remained surrendered, and he will not yet beallowed to leave the country. His other attorney, Benjamin Brafman,said Strauss-Kahn would be free to travel within the United States.
Investigators have come to believe that the accuser lied aboutsome of her activities in the hours around the alleged attack andabout her own background, a law enforcement official told theAssociated Press on Thursday. The official is familiar with thecase but spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss matters not yetmade public in court.
Prosecutors think she lied about details on her application forasylum in the U.S., including saying she had been raped in hernative Guinea, the official told the AP.
The accuser's attorney, Ken Thompson, fired back outside courtand said she went to the district attorney with information thather application was flawed because she was concerned she otherwisewould be sent back to Guinea.
"It is clear that this woman made some mistakes, but thatdoesn't mean she's not a rape victim," he said.
He said she came to the U.S. because she was a victim of genitalmutilation and worried that her daughter, now 15, would bevictimized as well. He also said she had been raped by soldiersthere, but not as it was written in her asylum application.
He also laid out details she described of an attack byStrauss-Kahn in the Sofitel suite and said her account has remainedconsistent.
"From day one has described a violent sexual assault thatDominique Strauss-Kahn committed against her," attorney KenThompson said.
Thompson took a throng of reporters outside court through thedetails of the incident from his client's perspective, sayingStrauss-Kahn bruised her genitals, tore a ligament in her shoulderand ripped her stockings.
"She has described that sexual assault many times, toprosecutors and to me, and she has never once changed a singlething about that encounter," he said.
He also addressed media reports that his client was involvedwith a drug dealer, calling them lies.
The New York Times, quoting law enforcement officials it didn'tname, reported that the woman was recorded on the phone with anincarcerated man around the day she made the allegations,discussing whether to press her case in court.
The newspaper said the man had been arrested on marijuanapossession charges and had deposited cash in the woman's bankaccount.