The hotel maid allegedly assaulted by the former head of the International Monetary Fund, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, has spoken out.
Her interviews with two news outlets came weeks after the case against Strauss-Kahn appeared to have collapsed.
Nafissatou Diallo, a 32-year-old from Guinea in west Africa, said she’s being honest about what happened at the Sofitel New York, where she worked as a housekeeper.
“God is my witness, I’m telling the truth, from my heart. God knows that.”
On May 14, Diallo said, she opened the door to Room 2806, the suite belonging to Strauss-Kahn and found him naked.
In her interview with ABC News she repeated her allegation that he then forced her to perform oral sex.
“I was, like, ‘stop, stop this, stop this’ but he, he won’t say nothing, he keep pushing me, pushing me, pushing me to the hallway, back to the hallway keep pushing me. I was so afraid. I was so scared” she said.
She was also interviewed by Christopher Dickey of Newsweek magazine.
He spent about three hours talking with her and described her as ‘heavy-set’.
“One of the things I think people were asking originally was how could Dominique Strauss-Kahn, who is, I think, shorter than she is, how could he force her to do the things she’s alleging he did?” he said.
The answer she gave is that she didn’t want to lose her job, an argument Dickey found convincing, especially given that Diallo came to the United States from a poor village in a poor country.
“She was earning upwards of 45 thousand dollars a year,” he said.
“For a woman who had emigrated from Guinea who is functionally illiterate, not at all educated, who’s trying to raise a fifteen-year-old daughter by herself, I’d say that’s a pretty important job and one you don’t want to lose.”
Strauss-Kahn has repeatedly denied all the charges against him, although he remains under indictment as the New York district attorney decides whether to proceed with a criminal case.
His lawyers contend that any sexual encounter between him and the maid was consensual.
And they characterize Diallo’s media interviews as an attempt to put pressure on the D.A., and to extract money from the Frenchman, most likely in a civil case.
Until the allegations against him surfaced, Strauss-Kahn was expected to run for the French presidency.
In her interview with ABC’s Robin Roberts, Nafissatou Diallo described her reaction when she found out who Strauss-Kahn was.
“I said, Oh my God, I was crying, I said they’re going to kill me, I said they’re going to kill me, I’m going to die” she said.
“Why did you think that, Nafi?” asked Roberts.
“Because I know, if I was in my country.. he’s a powerful man like that, they’re going to kill me before someone knows what happened to me.”
But the prosecution’s case against Strauss-Kahn has faced serious challenges over Diallo’s credibility.
Elements of her history, current circumstances and personal relationships have all come under scrutiny.
While Newsweek’s Christopher Dickey described her account of what happened at the Sofitel as ‘dignified’ and ‘compelling’, he said he was less convinced by the way she spoke about her past.
“That was a little disturbing, especially because we know she lied on her asylum application here in the United States, in a very well-rehearsed lie that used to move people to tears, a lie about being raped in Guinea. So all of that is a huge problem for the prosecution.”
Still, Dickey said, this case may not necessarily come down to her word against his.
There’s more than that here.
“All of the physical evidence is supportive of her account.”
Diallo acknowledged “mistakes” but said that should not stop her case against Dominique Strauss-Kahn from proceeding.
“I want justice, I want him to go to jail, I want him to know you cannot use your power when you do something like this” she said.
At the moment it’s the power of the media, rather than the power of the law that’s most in evidence.
Everyone is due back in court next week.