A phone call from Dominique Strauss-Kahn's accuser to a man in prison has become one of the central issues in the now-crumbling assault case against the former IMF head. Now the inmate has told his side of the story, but it may raise more questions than it answers.
The Daily Beast talked to the inmate — his name is Amara Tarawally, and he says DSK's accuser is his fiancée. He also appears to have a wife in New York, and a mother of six in Arizona thought she was engaged to him. He's finished a drug sentence for attempting to buy $40,000 worth of marijuana, but he's still in detention because he's in the country illegally.
Contrary to earlier reports, Tarawally says he didn't talk to Strauss-Kahn's accuser right after her alleged assault, nor did he deposit money in her bank account. However, he seems to have a history of lying to people, so it's hard to tell how seriously to take his version of events. Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the Daily Beast story is its emphasis on the fact that the taped conversation between Tarawally and DSK's accuser — in which they supposedly discussed DSK's wealth and the benefits of accusing him — took place in the accuser's native language, Fulani. The conversation took a while to translate, and some say whoever did so botched the job. While translators claim the accuser said something like, "Don't worry, this guy has a lot of money. I know what I'm doing," Tarawally says the words "I know what I'm doing" were actually a response to his questions about her legal representation.
Again, Tarawally's not the most credible witness. But translation errors happen, and since a full transcript of the conversation hasn't been released, it's certainly possible that the prevailing account of what the accuser said is inaccurate. All this underscores the fact that nothing we know about the case so far proves that DSK was set up or that the accuser was lying. This month's revelations may cast enough doubt on the accuser's story that no jury will convict DSK. However, she could pursue a civil case, where lawyers would need to prove not that DSK was guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, but merely that a "preponderance of evidence" pointed to his guilt. The lawyer for Kobe Bryant's 2004 rape accuser tells Reuters, "There's nothing from what I've heard about the alleged problems with the case that would make me immediately shy away" from taking it on.
The accuser hasn't yet announced any plans to sue Strauss-Kahn (though she has sued the New York Post for calling her a prostitute). Indeed, even her legal strategy remains a matter of speculation. Tarawally's somewhat confusing statements and ongoing translation questions are a reminder that even as more so-called information comes out about the accuser's life, we actually know very little about her.