In the past few weeks the hotel maid who says Dominique Strauss-Kahn sexually assaulted her has remained anonymous (in the American media at least) as she's been called as a liar and a prostitute in the press. But now in yet another dramatic twist, she's decided to go public with her side of the story in interviews with Newsweek and ABC News.
Nafissatou Diallo, who prosecutors kept in protective custody for two months, gave the news outlets permission to use her name and her face appears on the cover of Newsweek. On Tuesday night Nightline will air her interview with Robin Roberts, and a preview will run on Good Morning America tomorrow.
Diallo gave Newsweek reporters a three-hour interview in her lawyer's office. The story is somewhat sympathetic to Diallo, but says that she gave "vague responses" about events from her past in Guinea, and notes, "there were moments when the tears seemed forced." We also get this assessment of her looks:
"Nafi" Diallo is not glamorous. Her light-brown skin is pitted with what look like faint acne scars, and her dark hair is hennaed, straightened, and worn flat to her head, but she has a womanly, statuesque figure. When her face is in repose, there is an opaque melancholy to it.
At times the Newsweek piece echos the New York Times's description of Diallo as a naive immigrant (though she isn't painted as a "noble" savage anymore, since she's admitted to embellishing parts of her asylum application). However, it offers the most thorough description yet of what she says happened on May 14, including this graphic and disturbing account:
"Hello? Housekeeping." Diallo looked around the living room. She was standing facing the bedroom in the small entrance hall when the naked man with white hair appeared.
"Oh, my God," said Diallo. "I'm so sorry." And she turned to leave. "You don't have to be sorry," he said. But he was like "a crazy man to me." He clutched at her breasts. He slammed the door of the suite.
Diallo is about 5 feet 10, considerably taller than Strauss-Kahn, and she has a sturdy build. "You're beautiful," Strauss-Kahn told her, wrestling her toward the bedroom. "I said, ‘Sir, stop this. I don't want to lose my job,'" Diallo told NEWSWEEK. "He said, ‘You're not going to lose your job.'" An ugly incident with a guest-any guest-could threaten everything Diallo had worked for. "I don't look at him. I was so afraid. I didn't expect anyone in the room."
"He pulls me hard to the bed," she said. He tried to put his penis in her mouth, she said, and as she told the story she tightened her lips and turned her face from side to side to show how she resisted. "I push him. I get up. I wanted to scare him. I said, ‘Look, there is my supervisor right there.'" But the man said there was nobody out there, and nobody was going to hear.
Diallo kept pushing him away: "I don't want to hurt him," she told us. "I don't want to lose my job." He shoved back, moving her down the hallway from the bedroom toward the bathroom. Diallo's uniform dress buttoned down the front, but Strauss-Kahn didn't bother with the buttons, she said. He pulled it up around her thighs and tore down her pantyhose, gripping her crotch so hard that it was still red at the hospital, hours later. He pushed her to her knees, her back to the wall. He forced his penis into her mouth, she said, and he gripped her head on both sides. "He held my head so hard here," she said, putting her hands to her cranium. "He was moving and making a noise. He was going like ‘uhh, uhh, uhh.' He said, ‘Suck my'-I don't want to say." The report from the hospital where Diallo was taken later for examination notes that "she felt something wet and sour come into her mouth and she spit it out on the carpet."
"I got up," Diallo told NEWSWEEK. "I was spitting. I run. I run out of there. I don't turn back. I run to the hallway. I was so nervous; I was so scared. I didn't want to lose my job."
According to Newsweek reporters Christopher Dickey and John Solomon, her story is mostly backed up by hospital records. The one inconsistency is that the hospital account says Strauss-Kahn said nothing during the attack, but in the police report and Newsweek interview she mentions that he made several comments.
The biggest bombshell in the article is that the recorded telephone conversation in which Diallo supposedly said "words to the effect of, 'Don't worry, this guy has a lot of money. I know what I'm doing,'" may have been incorrectly paraphrased by a translator. The damning quip was leaked to the Times by a "well-placed law enforcement official," but sources say her exact words were a bit different. Amara Tarawally, the incarcerated man she was speaking to, also claims the quote was taken out of context.
Newsweek reports that Diallo and her lawyer were beginning to reconcile with prosecutors, but her decision to go public isn't likely to help their relationship. However, she says she feels she needs to correct media reports that suggest she's an opportunistic criminal who schemed to bring down one of the most powerful men in the world. She insists that her only motivation is seeing that her attacker is brought to justice:
"Because of him they call me a prostitute," she said. "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." She said she hoped God punishes him. "We are poor, but we are good," she said. "I don't think about money."
The Maid's Tale [Newsweek]
IN AN EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH ABC NEWS' ROBIN ROBERTS, HOTEL EMPLOYEE WHO ALLEGES SHE WAS SEXUALLY ASSAULTED BY DOMINIQUE STRAUSS-KAHN SPEAKS OUT [ABC News]
Strauss-Kahn Accuser's Call Alarmed Prosecutors [NYT]