Friday, July 29, 2011

The DSK Maid's Public Battle

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Nafissatou Diallo stood before the microphones, the television cameras and a small crowd on a sweltering Brooklyn afternoon Thursday and spoke so softly that most of the people there couldn’t hear her. She said she’d told her 15-year-old daughter, “I will be strong for you and every other woman in the world.” But she and her family, she said, “cry every day.”
Diallo, a 32-year-old African immigrant chambermaid at Manhattan’s Sofitel Hotel, is an unlikely crusader. She cannot read or write. The pinnacle of her ambition, as far as anyone knows, was to keep her steady job at the hotel. But when she claimed that French politician and managing director of the International Monetary Fund Dominique Strauss-Kahn forced her to perform oral sex and tried to rape her in his luxury suite on May 14, she found herself at the center of a sexual-political drama with global repercussions.
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Since she made her identity and her personal story public in an exclusive interview with Newsweek/The Daily Beast earlier this week, new information continues coming to light that tends to support her account.
An audio recording that at first seemed to incriminate Diallo as a cynical opportunist in cahoots with a convicted drug buyer in Arizona actually appears to support Diallo's original account of what happened to her. What’s not on it, in any case, is what “law enforcement officials” told The New York Times  last month: Diallo saying “words to the effect of: ‘Don’t worry, this guy has a lot of money. I know what I’m doing.’”
Meanwhile, Diallo’s friends and acquaintances in New York City’s African community have helped to fill in details of her personal life and cultural background.
Taken together, these revelations may not be sufficient to persuade Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance, Jr., that Nafissatou Diallo is credible enough to put on the stand and establish beyond a reasonable doubt that Strauss-Kahn is guilty of the crimes with which he’s been charged.
Strauss-Kahn, apart from his plea of not guilty, has yet to give any account at all of what happened in that hotel suite. Since extensive DNA evidence substantiates the claim of sexual contact between Strauss-Kahn and Diallo, his entire defense has been focused on trashing Diallo’s version.
In the savage Twittersphere and the pages of the New York Post, she has been described as a part-time hooker and a cynical manipulator. At one point near the end of June, even the prosecutors who’d indicted Strauss-Kahn in the first place backed away from Diallo, stating that she had lied on her immigration asylum petition, on her taxes, on her request for low-income housing, in her account of what she did after the alleged attack, and in other unspecified cases.

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