Strauss-Kahn Accuser’s Words “Misrepresented” in Leaks to Media

Nafissatou Diallo

Just a short time ago, the woman who accused former IMF head Dominque Strauss-Kahn of sexually assaulting her spoke briefly at press conference at a Brooklyn church.

“I’m here because I had people call me a lot of bad names,” Ms. Diallo said softly at the Christian Cultural Center on Flatlands Avenue. “A lot of things they said about me was not true.”

Before being introduced by Rev. A.R. Bernard, senior pastor at the center, Ms. Diallo, 32, dressed in a dark suit, rubbed her fingers together slowly, blinking often as she gazed out the windows of the lobby, past the bank of cameras and reporters.
“Me and my family, we are going through a lot,” she said. “We cry every day.”

She spoke for less than five minutes and was escorted from the podium when she finished without taking any questions; her lawyer, Kenneth Thompson, and other supporters remained at the microphone and spoke with reporters.

Diallo’s attorney says that the Manhattan DA’s office either mistranslated or deliberately misinterpreted taped conversations she had with an Arizona prison inmate.

Ms. Diallo and her lead lawyer, Kenneth P. Thompson, spent much of Wednesday at the district attorney’s office in Manhattan, where they listened to a recording of conversations Ms. Diallo had with a fellow African immigrant in an Arizona jail after she said she was attacked. Law enforcement officials told Mr. Thompson and The New York Times last month that Ms. Diallo could be heard saying on the tape “words to the effect of: ‘Don’t worry, this guy has a lot of money. I know what I’m doing.’ ”

But after listening to the recording on Wednesday, Mr. Thompson told reporters at a news conference that Ms. Diallo’s statements had been mischaracterized. He said that at no point did she raise the issue of Mr. Strauss-Kahn’s wealth or status in the way that prosecutors had described it. Rather, he said, the man she was speaking with, who initiated the calls to Ms. Diallo, remarked during one conversation that Ms. Diallo could stand to gain money from the case, but she quickly dismissed the idea and said it was a matter for her lawyer.

Thompson also noted that in the first phone call, Diallo’s description of what happened with Strauss-Kahn was

consistent with what she told investigators a day earlier. In sexual-assault cases, people who hear an early account of an attack are called “outcry witnesses,” and are often used to buttress the credibility of a person making an accusation.

“She told the guy that someone tried to rape her at her job,” Mr. Thompson said in an interview after his news conference. “She said: ‘I didn’t know who he was. We fought each other. Because he wasn’t able to take off my clothes, he put his penis in my mouth. He touched me. They took me to the hospital, and they arrested him.’ ”

The DA’s office said they could not comment on evidence in an ongoing investigation. But didn’t they already have quite a bit to say? Someone leaked negative information about Diallo to the media, resulting in Strauss-Kahn being released on bail while his accuser was treated like a liar and money-grubber. From CNN Justice:

The hotel maid who has accused the then-head of the International Monetary Fund of sexually assaulting her met Wednesday with prosecutors for at least seven hours….

Prior meetings between the maid, Nafissatou Diallo, and prosecutors who are deciding whether to pursue charges against French financier Dominique Strauss-Kahn ended abruptly last month after Thompson accused Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance of “abandoning” her.

Prosecutors had disclosed credibility issues with Diallo, who is from Guinea.


Diallo’s attorney said the Sofitel New York employee wants to tell a jury what happened to her. “I want justice. I want him to go to jail,” Diallo told ABC’s “Good Morning America” in an interview that aired this week.

I give Diallo a lot of credit for coming forward publicly and revealing her identity. I hope Manhattan DA Cyrus Vance will let her have her day in court.