9:15 am Oct. 5, 2012
Kenneth Thompson, the defense attorney who represented the hotel housekeeper who accused Dominique Strauss-Kahn of sexual assault last year, is considering a primary challenge to Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes in 2013.
Thompson has represented a number of high-profile clients since he served as a prosecutor in New York's Eastern District in the mid-1990s, when he first made a name for himself by delivering the opening statements in the Abner Louima case.
Since then, as a name partner at the firm Thompson Wigdor, he has represented a former editor of the New York Post in a discrimination suit; victims of a steampipe explosion and a crane collapse, respectively; State Senate Democrats implicated in the Aqueduct scandal; and Sherr-una Booker, who accused a former aide to Governor David Paterson of physical abuse.
None of those cases garnered as much attention as that of the hotel maid who accused Strauss-Kahn of sexual assault, an investigation that upended the French presidential election.
Thompson held press conferences in Brooklyn and outside the courthouse to pressure Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance to bring the case to trial. And while his lawyering on the case was heavily scrutinized—including his decision to file a civil suit before Vance ruled out a criminal case—his outspoken advocacy on behalf of the accuser, an immigrant from Guinea, could play well in parts of the borough.
Thompson has also become increasingly active in Brooklyn's politics in recent years.
He is a longtime supporter and friend of Congress-bound assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries, who he first met when Jeffries was an intern in the Eastern District. Thompson supported him when Jeffries first ran for office back in 2000, and has since contributed to the campaigns of other upcoming black electeds in Central Brooklyn, including Assemblyman Karim Camara, Councilwoman Tish James and district leader Walter Mosley, who recently won a primary to replace Jeffries in the Assembly.
In January, Thompson introduced Jeffries at his congressional campaign kick-off, on the steps of Brooklyn's Borough Hall, and helped stake Jeffries to a considerable financial advantage in that race. He held an early fund-raiser with another high-profile defense attorney, Ted Wells, shortly after Jeffries' announcement.
Thompson did not return a phone call or an email seeking comment.
Hynes has endured a series of stories in recent weeks questioning his handling of sexual assault claims in Brooklyn's Orthodox communities. And he lost one of his most committed supporters last month when Assemblyman Vito Lopez was forced to resign as chairman of the Brooklyn Democratic Party amid allegations of sexual harassment.
Another challenger, Abe George, a former assistant district attorney in Manhattan, has already declared for the race.
Hynes has weathered primary challenges in the past. In 2005, he narrowly beat State Senator John Sampson with 41 percent of the primary vote, to Sampson's 37 percent.
A spokesman for Hynes declined to comment on Thompson's possible entrance in the race.
"The D.A. is a candidate for district attorney in 2013," said Jerry Schmetterer, a spokesman for Hynes.
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