Dominique Strauss-Kahn released from house arrest without bail

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NEW YORK (AP) — The hotel maid who accused former International Monetary Fund chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn of sexual assault may have inflicted fatal damage on her own case by lying to prosecutors about her life story and what she did in the moments after the suspected attack, legal experts said.

Dominique Strauss-Kahn listens to court proceedings on Friday. (Photo: Associated Press)

The Manhattan District Attorney's Office revealed Friday that the 32-year-old woman had committed a host of minor frauds to better her life in the U.S. since arriving in the country seven years ago, including lying on immigration paperwork, cheating on her taxes, and misstating her income so she could live in an apartment reserved for the poor.

In a letter to Strauss-Kahn's lawyers, prosecutors also said she had misrepresented what she did immediately after the alleged attack by Strauss-Kahn — instead of fleeing his luxury suite to a hallway and waiting for a supervisor, she went to clean another room and then returned to clean Strauss-Kahn's suite before reporting the encounter.

That change in her story, and the revelations about her past, wasn't enough to kill the case entirely, but prosecutors acknowledged their position had been shaken, and agreed to a defense request that Strauss-Kahn be freed immediately from house arrest.

The revelations in a case once considered iron-clad came as a shock; prosecutors and police had said repeatedly that the hotel maid was found to be a credible witness.

"Rape cases are especially difficult to try," said Linda Fairstein, who oversaw the sex crimes prosecution unit in the district attorney's office for 25 years. "But they are nearly impossible to try when you find out the witness has already lied to you. The prosecutors and police, they took her word over the word of one of the most powerful men in the financial world."

Investigators have gathered forensic evidence in the case, including traces of Strauss-Kahn's semen found on the woman's work uniform, but that evidence alone isn't enough, said Fairstein, now a crime novelist.

"The DNA clearly suggests there was some kind of sexual exchange between DSK and woman, but it tells you nothing about whether it was forcible," she said. "It can be deposited by consent or by force. Her credibility is the entire case, you have to believe her story."

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