Monday, March 26, 2012

DSK mis en examen

Figaro:


Dominique Strauss-Kahn a été mis en examen lundi soir pour "proxénétisme aggravé en bande organisée" dans le cadre de l'affaire du Carlton de Lille.

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

OMG.
The French should thank Nafissatou Diallo or Sarkozy would be re-elected without having to run.

Mitch Guthman said...

I’m not clear on what’s being alleged here but it doesn't seem to be the issue that I expected to be a problem for DSK, namely, that either corporate or state funds were improperly diverted to pay for prostitutes to service him. But the articles in Le Figaro and Le Parisian seem to suggest that DSK was actually a part of the ring (directing the activities of the prostitutes) and not simply a customer. Am I reading these articles correctly?

The other question in my mind is what SMS messages are being discussed in these articles: Are they the ones previously disclosed (which seemed to show DSK ordering girls for his own use, if that’s not too insensitive a way to express the content of the SMS messages) or are these different ones which directed the prostitutes in their relations with other customers or which discussed money?

Also, could someone kindly provide some reference points about what the common law equivalents (if there are any) of « mis en examen » and «sous contrôle judiciaire»? Is DSK being charged with a crime or is « Mis en examen » the functional equivalent of a “target letter” in federal grand jury practice? Does « sous contrôle judiciaire » mean he’s been released on bail or is under house arrest?

Mitch Guthman said...

@Anonymous,

Maybe so but at this point Sarkozy seems to be losing rather badly to a man who doesn’t seem to be campaigning so maybe not.

Robert said...

A technical - and ultimately academic - question, but: Since some of the orgies allegedly occurred in Washington, could DSK have faced US charges of helping transport prostitutes across state lines under the Mann Act? Keep in mind, Washington's airports are located in neighboring states.

Mitch Guthman said...

It would certainly be possible since the “modern” version of the Mann Act (18 U.S.C. § 2421) arguably applies to people who either travel together internationally or across state lines while thinking about sex and then later have forbidden sex or when one of the partners travels someplace in American while thinking about sex and then later has forbidden sex.

Since prostitution and a fairly wide variety of sexual acts are illegal in most of America, it’s entirely possible that DSK could be prosecuted under the Mann Act if he invited a prostitute to travel to the USA to engage in prostitution or if he simply invited a woman to travel to him internationally or across state lines to engage in a particular sex act considered illegal in the state where it is performed.

A little known but very entertaining fact about the Mann Act is that even under this supposedly more "cosmopolitan" version of the act, even married couples are liable for prosecution if they travel while thinking or talking about having sex and then later engage in a sex act that is illegal in the place where they do it.

Arthur Goldhammer said...

Mitch,
DSK is being charged with aiding in the organization of providing sex for money. In other words, the prosecutors believe they can prove that he knew that these women were being paid for committing sexual acts and that he participated in a scheme to have them appear at appointed times and places for that purpose: proxénétisme aggravé. "Mis en examen" replaces the old category of "inculpation," the equivalent of our indictment, but it is more in the nature of opening an official inquiry into whether to refer him for trial. A person mise en examen has certain rights, which you can read about here: http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mise_en_examen . Sous contrôle judiciaire means that his passport has been lifted and that he must keep police informed of his movements.

Mitch Guthman said...

Thank you for the link. Regrettably, I just don’t know much about the French legal system. I think my difficulty here is that I, as a common law lawyer, simply don’t have a conceptual framework to deal with something that’s more than being “formally investigated” but apparently less than being charged with a crime. Nevertheless, from I gather, it would seem that DSK now has the status of "putative defendant”. Of course if the DSK affair(s) drag on long enough, I’ll probably be able to hang out my shingle in Paris before it’s finished.

I also don’t understand the crime of « proxénétisme en bande organisée » and, more particularly, the nature of the judicial investigation into DSK’ activities with these prostitutes. My understanding from the articles published at the beginning of the Carlton affair is that it isn’t a crime under French law to solicit a prostitute or to have sexual relations for money. Only “pimping” is a crime.

Even after reading several articles on today’s developments, I find the substantive charge for which DSK is being investigated or prosecuted (as the case may be) to be puzzling. Surely every man who hires a prostitute knows what she is and has made some arrangement for her to appear at a particular time and place to have sex. If DSK role was nothing more than negotiating with these pimps about which girls he wanted and so forth, I don’t understand how his role as a customer would justify charging him with « proxénétisme en bande organisée ». Either I don’t understand the elements of this crime (a strong possibility) or DSK is being accused of something much darker than previously thought. Is he being accused of being a pimp or a John?

As an aside, I wish that one of the news-magazines or papers would publish a primer on the statutes and procedures involved.

Cincinna said...

@Mitch
  You might find this article from France24.com 
helpful. It translates the charges against DSK pretty decently. 
"Prosecutors said the 62-year-old former Socialist minister and presidential favourite had been released late Monday on 100,000 euros ($135,000) bail after being charged with "aggravated pimping as part of an organised gang".

http://www.france24.com/en/node/5310598

It doesn't mention the added complication that these were allegedly underage girls. 
  My favorite part of this pathetic story is when DSK claimed as a defense that he had no way of knowing they were prostitutes because they were always naked when he saw them. 
The France24 site has an English option for print articles and broadcasts.

Alex Price said...

I haven't been following this affair very much, and I share many of Mitch's questions. I note that DSK's lawyers are taking exactly the line that these questions imply. But for the judges apparently DSK was more than a client, he was an active organizer of these "parties fines"; hence the charge of proxénétisme. On a common sense level, that does seem a bit of stretch to me. For an excellent primer on the Carleton affair, I recommend this very clever "cartographie" from Le Monde:

http://www.lemonde.fr/dsk/infographie/2011/11/22/comprendre-l-affaire-du-carlton-en-trois-minutes_1607248_1522571.html

Mitch Guthman said...

@Cincinna,

I actually did look at France 24 first because I enjoy many programs in their English language service and because they tend to cover the same things in both the English and French services so it’s a quick way of checking my understanding of what I read or hear in French. I looked also at other French and UK sources. All the newspapers in both languages (that I read) had the same coverage as you have described; that DSK was accused of complicity in the Carlton pimping ring. Le Monde later elaborated in an excellent article making things a bit clearer by saying that it was probably based on his “organizing” the evenings. http://www.lemonde.fr/societe/article/2012/03/27/pour-les-juges-lillois-dsk-est-l-organisateur-des-soirees-echangistes_1676183_3224.html

My problem remains that none of these sources explains what "proxénétisme aggravé en bande organisée" means in French law or whether there is some accusation that DSK’s role went beyond that of a client. My understanding is that it is legal in France to engage in prostitution and likewise legal for clients to hire and (to put it delicately) enjoy the services of prostitutes. As I suggested earlier, the fact that it is legal hire a prostitute implies that it is necessarily just as legal for a customer to negotiate about all of the component parts or terms of the transaction such which specific prostitutes will perform which specific sex services over what time and so forth. Specifically, it would seem that as a client DSK would be within the law to discuss such matters about the prostitutes he wanted to hire or that were hired for his benefit. Such communications are obviously integral to the prostitute-client relationship. If hiring a prostitute is legal then I believe it necessarily follows that arranging these sorts of logistics must be legal, too.

By contrast, the newspaper and magazine descriptions of proxénétisme that I read at the start of the Carlton affair seems to closely resemble the laws in the common law countries regarding “living off immoral earning”. In which case, the sin qua non of proxénétisme would seem to be receiving money from a prostitute and not the other way around. Therefore my question was: When the press says that DSK is accused of complicity in proxénétisme are they necessarily implying that he participated in the Carlton ring as something more than a client?

Also, I would point out that although it is alleged that the Carlton ring employed under age prostitutes, there is no allegation that I have seen in the press that DSK himself used underage girls or that underage girls ever participated in any of the “libertine evenings” (to use DSK’s phrase) that he organized.

Cincinna said...

@Mitch
I enjoy France24 fir the same reasons.
I don't know much about French law either, but I'm assuming that there is far mire to this as DSK is out on 150,000 € bail, his passport is being held, and he could face up to 20 years in prison.
Im wondering if something like the French equivalent of RICO, if it exists, could be at play.
Meanwhile, the long suffering wife/enabler, like some French Hillary Clinton or Tammy Wynette is standin' by her man, low-life degenerate pervert thst he is. We know he is arrogant and has no shame, but what is wrong with these women?