The media was quick to report that Nafissatou Diallo, the Sofitel maid who has alleged that Dominique Strauss-Kahn sexually assaulted her in a room at the hotel, had been deemed less and less credible by prosecutors after a number of details in her account of the incident, and some untruths about her past in her native Guinea, were revealed. One of those details involved a phone call made to a friend in jail following the attack, in which, it had been reported by a source (and published in the New York Times, among other outlets), she said “Don’t worry, this guy has a lot of money. I know what I’m doing.” Quickly, it was assumed that this was a opportunist, making up a story about a rich man in hopes of a payday. Or, by some, a hooker.
Diallo’s lawyer, Kenneth Thompson, met with prosecutors for 8 hours yesterday to review tapes of her conversations, which revealed a different reality in context. Via the AP:
But on the tapes, her mentions of Strauss-Kahn’s resources and her knowing what to do are made at different points, and in contexts that cast them in a considerably different light, Thompson said.
In her first conversation with the man, she didn’t mention Strauss-Kahn’s wealth at all, instead telling her friend that “someone tried to rape me, and that he’s a powerful, big man,” who had tried to take her clothes off, pushed her, and ultimately made her do something against her will, Thompson said.
In a subsequent conversation, she told her friend that her attacker “is powerful and rich,” her lawyer said. But it was earlier in that conversation — and not in connection with any mention of Strauss-Kahn’s status — that she said “I know what to do” to signal that she gone to authorities, planned to hire a lawyer and would be all right, Thompson said.
“Her primary focus was on what happened to her, how she was coping with the fact that she had almost been raped,” he said.
Diallo went public with interviews in both Newsweek and ABC News earlier this week, hoping to keep prosecutors committed to the case and to “correct the misleading portrayal of her in the media.”
Strauss-Kahn denies the charges, and his lawyers are calling for dismissal of the case. The next court date is scheduled for August 23, at which point prosecutors may announce whether they’ll go forward or not.
Update: Diallo met with supporters today at the Christian Cultural Center in Brooklyn, telling them that things said about her were untrue, and “Me and my family, we are going through a lot. We cry every day.”
Lawyer: Strauss-Kahn maid’s remarks misportrayed [WSJ]
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on July 28, 2011