19 May 2011

IMF chief presumed guilty?

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, heretofore the managing director of the International Monetary Fund, is being held in a New York jail awaiting trial for the alleged sexual assault of a housekeeper at the Manhattan hotel where he had been staying.

When the news broke, a friend asked me if I thought he was guilty. My response was simply, "I wasn't there, so I don't know."

While the media reports do tend to suggest that a crime did occur, I like to respect that old American principle that a defendant is to be presumed innocent until proven guilty.

For that reason, I was disturbed by the calls for Strauss-Kahn to be removed from his IMF position. It all seemed premature. As it turns out, he resigned last night, stating, "I want to devote all my strength, all my time, and all my energy to proving my innocence."

But I wonder to what extent the resignation really was his own choice, given all the pressure in the media. Why wasn't it good enough to have an interim chief run the show in the meantime?

Think about this: What if you were accused of a crime that you did not commit, and you were fired from your job for it before you even had your day in court?

If Strauss-Kahn is found guilty at trial, then he should be punished to the fullest extent of the law. That would be justice.

But it is not right for a punishment to precede a conviction. That is not true justice.

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