Nafissatou Diallo, the 32-year-old West African immigrant and hotel maid who accused former International Monetary Fund chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn of rape, has spoken about her experience in an interview with Newsweek and Good Morning America.”
Diallo, who can neither read nor write and came to this country from her native Guinea, says she decided to tell her side of the story because she was upset at being called a hooker in the media.
After Strauss-Kahn allegedly assaulted her in June while she was working at New York’s Sofitel Hotel, Diallo told Newsweek, she was nervous that she would be killed for accusing a powerful man of rape. That’s what would happen in her native land, she said.
The prosecution’s case against Strauss-Kahn was weakened when investigators discovered inconsistencies in Diallos’ financial record, testimony and application for political asylum. The biggest glitch is that she lied about being raped by soldiers as a basis for bringing the 7-year-old daughter she had left behind when she immigrated to the United States under dubious circumstances.
She admitted to having been a victim of female genital mutilation but did not use that reason in her application.
Some say Diallo is talking to reporters now because her attorney fears Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. plans to drop the case. He is pushing his client to speak out as a way to pressure prosecutors keep the investigation going, court watchers say.
That maneuver would enable her to seek civil damages against Strauss-Kahn but also would possibly further undermine her credibility and give credence to Strauss-Kahn’s claim that she is accusing him to get money.
Newsweek paints Diallo as credible and explains troubles such as being involved with a man facing deportation who some have said was her boyfriend and who Diallo said used her account to manage his petty drug ring. Newsweek also explains that media reports of her saying of Strauss-Kahn, “This guy has money. I know what I am doing,” could be the result of a poor translation of a telephone conversation spoken in Diallo’s native Fulani tongue.
Newsweek’s interview and article cast doubt on portrayals of Diallo as a prostitute, as a woman exploiting a rich man for money or as part of an elaborate plot to tarnish Strauss-Kahn’s aspirations to become the president of France.
Instead, Newsweek describes Diallo as a member of the quasi-legitimate underground society of immigrants who survive by fudging documents here and there just to survive and remain in America while keeping under the official radar.