The embattled hotel housekeeper who rocked the global political world in May with accusations of sexual assault against Dominique Strauss Kahn — then the International Monetary Fund chief and a likely candidate to replace Nicolas Sarkozy as president of France — has broken her silence in a tearful, three-hour interview with Newsweek, and an on-camera interview with ABC News to air Tuesday night (Good Morning America broadcast a preview on Monday). In recent weeks, the prosecution’s case against Strauss-Kahn, who pleaded not guilty, has begun to unravel, as investigators say they’ve caught his accuser in a number of lies and contradictions. Now, his accuser — Nafissatou Diallo, an illiterate, 32-year-old Guinean immigrant and widow — tells Newsweek that she's going public to counter the media's unfair portrayal of her. (Strauss-Kahn's lawyers call the media campaign an "unseemly circus.") What can we learn from Diallo's tale of what happened at the Sofitel hotel on May 14? Here, five takeaways:
1. A sexual encounter almost certainly took place
In her "vivid and compelling" account, say Newsweek's Christopher Dickey and John Solomon, Diallo alleges that Strauss-Kahn forced himself on her, pulling her dress up, her pantyhose down, molesting her and compelling her to perform oral sex on him. According to Newsweek, "DNA evidence in suite 2806 — the result of all that spitting that mingled the maid’s saliva and Strauss-Kahn’s sperm — makes it virtually impossible to deny there was a sexual encounter between DSK and Diallo." The real question: Was it consensual or not?
2. The hospital records back up some of Diallo's story
Much of the housekeeper’s account is "mirrored in the hospital records," according to Newsweek. For instance, five hours after the alleged attack, doctors observed "'redness' in the area of the vagina where she alleges Strauss-Kahn grabbed her."
3. A taped conversation that damaged Diallo may have been mistranslated
Earlier this month, The New York Times reported a conversation between Diallo and an incarcerated acquaintance, recorded the day after the Sofitel incident. In it, Diallo said something along the lines of, "Don’t worry, this guy has a lot of money. I know what I’m doing." This seemingly devastating evidence cast much doubt on the woman's motives and reliability. But according to Newsweek’s sources, the highly publicized quote "was a paraphrase from a translator’s summary of the tape, and the actual words are somewhat different."
4. But there are still reasons to doubt Diallo
Speaking to authorities after the alleged attack, the housekeeper reported that Strauss-Kahn "said nothing to her during the incident." But in separate interviews with the police and Newsweek, Diallo contradicted that account, saying that Strauss-Kahn had made rather graphic statements during the alleged attack. Newsweek's writers add that Diallo's "tears seemed forced" at times. Moreover, Diallo's past includes a pattern of embellishment that still troubles prosecutors, and gives Strauss-Kahn's lawyers ammunition. "She had claimed deductions for two children on her taxes instead of one. She had understated her income to get cheaper housing. And, most important, she had lied on her asylum application."
5. Diallo wants revenge
After a difficult life, Diallo was happy with her Sofitel job, which she’d held for three years, cleaning 14 rooms a day for $25 an hour, plus tips. During and after the incident — especially when Diallo found out how powerful Strauss-Kahn was — she feared she'd lose her job or worse. Now, Diallo candidly wants revenge. "Because of him they call me a prostitute. I want him to go to jail. I want him to know there are some places you cannot use your power, you cannot use your money." In the end, says Courtney at Feministing, "Diallo comes off as a hard working woman who has been through hell and back, a woman who just wants a fair trial in order to prove that money can't buy everything."
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- How a degree from Duke University dashed my dreams of buying a home
- This is why you can't trust the NSA. Ever.
- Half the world's population lives in these 6 countries
- Innocent before proven guilty? The bizarre bipartisan rush to clear Rick Perry
- Why you should stop believing in evolution
- What Keeping Up with the Kardashians can teach America about interracial marriage
- Today in history: Lincoln reveals the real goal of the Civil War
- The single best way to help your kid succeed at school
- What would a U.S.-Russia war look like?
- ISIS and the echoes of the West's religious terror
Subscribe to the Week