Dominique Strauss-Kahn's Accuser Goes Public

fromWNYC

The hotel housekeeper at the center of the sexual assault case against Dominique Strauss-Kahn has come forward publicly for the first time since the alleged attack at the Sofitel Hotel. Legal experts talk about her appearance on ABC's Good Morning America and interview with Newsweek magazine.

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The hotel housekeeper at the center of the sexual assault case against Dominique Strauss-Kahn has come forward publicly for the first time since the alleged attack.

As Ailsa Chang of member station WNYC reports, legal experts are mixed over the wisdom of her decision to sit down with ABC's "Good Morning America" and Newsweek magazine.

AILSA CHANG: After Strauss-Kahn's DNA was found on Nafissatou Diallo's housekeeping uniform, and in the Sofitel hotel suite where he allegedly attacked her, the defense has continually suggested well, there's a reason for that. Diallo consented to a sexual encounter. But on ABC's "Good Morning America" today, she says that's a lie.

Ms. NAFISSATOU DIALLO: I was like, stop. Stop this. Stop this. But he won't say nothing. He keep pushing me, pushing me to the hallway.

CHANG: In tears, Diallo recounted how Strauss-Kahn grabbed her breasts and pulled her into the bathroom. She says he then forced her to perform oral sex. Strauss-Kahn has adamantly denied this, and Manhattan prosecutors have suggested they're losing faith in the case. Earlier this month, they submitted a letter to the court saying they were concerned about Diallo's credibility.

She admitted lying on her asylum application from Guinea, on income-tax returns, and during interviews with investigators. Now, it's an open question if prosecutors will drop the entire case. Strauss-Kahn's lawyers are accusing Diallo of putting on a media circus to pressure the district attorney.

Some legal experts, though, say it's a clever way to reinforce her credibility about the actual attack. Jim Cohen is a professor of criminal law at Fordham Law School in New York.

Professor JIM COHEN (Criminal Law, Fordham University School of Law): On this particular matter, she came across - and intended to come across - as a truth teller. And she wanted to send that message both to the prosecutors and to the public.

CHANG: Up until now, the public has been fed a steady diet of unflattering theories about her private life, although Newsweek characterized some of her tears this week as forced. It found her account of the encounter with Strauss-Kahn vivid and compelling.

But Jane Manning, who's a former sex crimes prosecutor in New York City, says Diallo could be setting herself up to be impeached on the witness stand.

Ms. JANE MANNING (Former Prosecutor): Even a person who's telling an absolutely true narrative will not tell it the same way twice. And when the case goes to trial, a skillful cross-examiner can highlight those very small differences and really make them seem like major inconsistencies.

CHANG: But even if the criminal case collapses, Diallo's lawyer, Ken Thompson, says he intends to file a civil suit against him within days for what he says was an attempt to rape his client.

For NPR News, I'm Ailsa Chang in New York.

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