NEW YORK — 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.
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, prosecutors said.
The details speak to the maid's credibility and whether her story would stand up under oath.
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 that the woman went to the district attorney with information that her asylum application was flawed but that she exaggerated on it because she was afraid she would be sent back to Guinea. He said she came to the United States because she was a victim of female genital mutilation, and she worried her daughter, now 15, would be victimized as well.
Thompson said that Strauss-Kahn bruised the woman's genitals, tore a ligament in her shoulder and ripped her stockings, and that she fought to get away.
Investigators have said they found traces of his semen on her uniform.
Thompson said news reports saying his client was involved with a drug dealer were lies.
"It is clear that this woman made some mistakes, but that doesn't mean she's not a rape victim," Thompson said.
Strauss-Kahn was not given back his passport. He is slated to return to court July 18.