Yesterday a leaked medical report that says Nafissatou Diallo was raped set off another round of insults between lawyers representing the hotel maid and Dominique Strauss-Kahn. Diallo's lawyer says it's important evidence, but Strauss-Kahn's lawyers contend that it's "misleading an deceitful" to leak such a damning report. Oddly enough, they weren't complaining when damning information about Diallo was being passed on to the press.
The Associated Press reports that yesterday the French magazine L'Express described the contents of the medical file from Diallo's hospital exam after the alleged attack at the Sofitel hotel on May 14. The account ran alongside an interview with her lawyer, Kenneth Thompson. The magazine says the report describes Diallo tearfully telling a doctor she was pushed to the ground and forced to perform oral sex, which is consistent with what she told police and said in interviews. It also lists, "Cause of the injuries: assault. Rape."
While Strauss-Kahn's lawyers don't dispute that this was recorded in the medical file, they say Thompson was wrong to suggest this document bolsters Diallo's case. From the AP:
"The hospital report is based almost exclusively on the word of the complaining witness, who has been proven, time and again, not to be credible," and it doesn't establish a forceful encounter, attorneys Benjamin Brafman and William W. Taylor said in a statement.
The doctor's findings are "common conditions consistent with many possible causes other than a sexual assault," they said.
It's true that a doctor writing down "rape" doesn't prove that the encounter was non-consensual, but records that show her injuries are consistent with her account of the incident are essential to Diallo's case. Releasing details from the report may not be the most scrupulous move, but it is a smart strategy, considering that she's been called a liar and a prostitute in the media. And let's not forget that incorrect quote leaked by prosecutors that made it look like she was scheming to make money.
It's unfortunate that the case is now about sensational media reports, rather than just the facts. However, at this point Thompson can't be blamed for trying to make his client appear as sympathetic as possible. Prosecutors are expected to announce whether or not they'll move forward with the case next Tuesday. Sadly, regardless of what happened to her, the case won't move forward unless Diallo's lawyer can convince prosecutors that she could be a credible witness.