NEW YORK - The lawyer for the woman who accused Dominique Strauss-Kahn of sexual assault said yesterday that he would formally ask the judge overseeing the criminal case to disqualify the Manhattan district attorney’s office from the prosecution and appoint a special prosecutor.
The lawyer, Kenneth P. Thompson, said he would take the extraordinary step today because he believed that the office of Cyrus R. Vance Jr., the Manhattan district attorney, had mishandled the case and treated his client, Nafissatou Diallo, more like a defendant than a victim. Thompson said he believed that Vance’s office would dismiss the charges against Strauss-Kahn at the next court hearing tomorrow.
“Ms. Diallo wants Dominique Strauss-Kahn to be held accountable to the fullest extent under the law, both in criminal and in civil court,’’ Thompson said. “She should not have her right to go to trial in a criminal case taken away by the Manhattan district attorney’s office.’’
Thompson’s motion will almost certainly fail, legal experts said, because under the law his client has no authority to ask for Vance’s office to be replaced by a special prosecutor.
“It’s what we call an AOD: an act of desperation,’’ said Stephen Gillers, a professor at New York University Law School. “She may benefit from a successful prosecution, but she has no legal interest in the prosecution.’’
Nonetheless, Thompson’s motion may set the stage for a mud-slinging contest with Vance’s office, with each side alleging failures on the other’s part.