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Strauss-Kahn free from house arrest

NEW YORK (AP) — Former IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn walked out of court without bail Friday, freed from house arrest, after prosecutors acknowledged serious questions about the credibility of the hotel housekeeper who accused him of sexual assault.

The charges, which include attempted rape, were not dropped, but the easing of his bail conditions signaled that prosecutors do not believe the accusations are as ironclad as they once seemed.

“It is a great relief,” said Strauss-Kahn’s attorney, William Taylor. “It is so important in this country that people, especially the media, refrain from judgment until the facts are all in.”

After his arrest, Strauss-Kahn, 62, resigned from his post leading the International Monetary Fund and watched his presidential ambitions in France seemingly crumble. He had been confined for weeks to a luxury New York City loft on $6 million in cash and bond.

The 32-year-old hotel maid accused Strauss-Kahn of chasing her through his luxury suite in May, trying to pull down her pantyhose and forcing her to perform oral sex. Authorities have said they have forensic evidence of a sexual encounter, but defense lawyers have said it wasn’t forced.

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Former International Monetary Fund leader Dominique Strauss-Kahn arrives at New York Supreme court Friday with his wife, Anne Sinclair.

The stark turn in the case came after the woman admitted to prosecutors she had made up a story of being gang-raped and beaten in her homeland of Guinea to enhance her application for political asylum, prosecutors said in a letter to defense lawyers.

She also misrepresented what she did after the alleged attack — instead of fleeing to a hallway and waiting for a supervisor, she went to clean another room and then returned to clean Strauss-Kahn’s suite before telling her supervisor that she had been attacked, prosecutors said.

She also misrepresented her income and claimed someone else’s child as her own dependent on tax returns, they said.

The details speak to the maid’s credibility and whether her story would stand up under oath in a prosecution that would rely heavily on her testimony.

The woman’s attorney, Ken Thompson, fired back outside court, saying the district attorney’s office was backing away from the case because it was too scared to prosecute it. He said she would come out in public to tell her story but didn’t specify when.

Thompson said the woman went to the district attorney with information that her asylum application was flawed, but that she exaggerated on it because she was scared she would be sent back to Guinea. He said she came to the U.S. because she was a victim of female genital mutilation, and she worried her daughter, now 15, would be victimized as well. He also said she had been raped by soldiers there, but that attack did not occur as it was written in her asylum application.

“From day one she has described a violent sexual assault that Dominique Strauss-Kahn committed against her,” Thompson said. “She has described that sexual assault many times, to prosecutors and to me, and she has never once changed a single thing about that encounter.”

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