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The Big Oops in The Big Apple

The New York Times reported Thursday night that the prosecution’s case against Dominique Strauss-Kahn is breaking down.

Under relaxed bail conditions agreed to by the prosecution, Strauss-Kahn is expected to be allowed to travel freely in the United States but not abroad. He has been confined to an apartment in Manhattan while awaiting trial. The arrangement has cost him $250,000 per month.

Prosecutors, who had expressed confidence in their case and said they had physical evidence proving that Strauss-Kahn had sexual contact with the woman, now have serious doubts about what the chambermaid told them, according to persons familiar with the matter, who requested anonymity to speak freely about the confidential matter.

Strauss-Kahn, who led the IMF through the global financial crisis and was a potential candidate for president in France, has always maintained his innocence.

Strauss-Kahn’s arrest in May and subsequent resignation have had a global impact. His alleged encounter with the maid, a 32-year-old immigrant from Guinea, upended French politics, threw global economic negotiations into disarray and seemed to cause one of history’s more spectacular political downfalls.

After Friday’s hearing, both the prosecution and defense will consider their next steps.

A separate law enforcement official who is familiar with the case but not authorized to speak about it publicly told the Associated Press that the issue was not necessarily about the rape accusation itself but about questions surrounding the alleged victim’s background that could damage her credibility on the witness stand. The official refused to elaborate.

Prosecutors are questioning the woman’s asylum application with U.S. immigration authorities as well as her possible connections to a convicted drug dealer, the Times said.

The chambermaid had a telephone discussion with a convicted drug dealer within a day of the alleged assault and discussed the possible benefits of filing charges against Strauss-Kahn, according to the Times.

Prosecutors have found that the woman received $100,000 in cash payments in her bank accounts in recent years from the drug dealer and others. They also found she maintained multiple bank accounts.

Prosecutors may still try to charge Strauss-Kahn with a misdemeanor, but his attorneys are expected to oppose that, the person familiar with the case said.

The case roiled French politics. Strauss-Kahn was considered a strong candidate for the French presidency and was expected to pursue the nomination of the Socialist Party. His supporters have said Strauss-Kahn was being set up.

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