Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 29 July 2014

Strauss-Kahn maid thanks supporters

Nafissatou Diallo accused former IMF head Dominique Strauss-Kahn of sexually attacking her (AP)

In a quiet, breaking voice, the hotel maid who accused Dominique Strauss-Kahn of sexual assault said that she has started speaking publicly because she needs to be strong for her teenage daughter - and for women around the world.

Nafissatou Diallo, visibly nervous and fidgeting her hands, told a throng of reporters that she wanted to "let people know a lot of things they say about me is not true".

She spoke at the Christian Cultural Centre in Brooklyn, New York, amid a score of supporters from the church and around the city. "My daughter is crying but one day she goes 'Mom, please promise me you're gonna stop crying'," the Guinean immigrant said in accented English.

"People call you bad names. People tell bad things about you because they don't know you. You have to remember this guy, he is a powerful man, everybody knows that. But for you, only the people that you work with, or our neighbours, or the people back home, knows you."

Strauss-Kahn has pleaded not guilty to charges of attempted rape and other crimes. He was freed from house arrest after prosecutors admitted publicly that they had uncovered information which cast doubt on Ms Diallo's credibility.

The 62-year-old former head of the International Monetary Fund has not spoken publicly - except for a letter of resignation he wrote to the powerful money institution on May 18. "I want to say that I deny with the greatest possible firmness all of the allegations that have been made against me," he wrote. His lawyers say the case should be dropped, and they have decried the maid going public.

Ms Diallo broke her silence in recent interviews with ABC and Newsweek, but Thursday's event was the first time she had spoken to an uncontrolled crowd of media.

It is almost unheard of for an alleged sex assault victim to speak publicly before the end of court proceedings, and it is not clear whether Ms Diallo's decision to come forward affected her already-tenuous relationship with the prosecutors investigating her case.

She said she felt she needed to come forward because people were saying things that were untrue about her - including articles published claiming she was money-grabbing and a prostitute. Her lawyer has filed a libel suit against the New York Post for reporting the claims of prostitution; the paper stands by its reporting.

The Manhattan district attorney's office has not commented about its plans since the last court hearing where Strauss-Kahn was freed. He is still not allowed to leave the country. The next court date was postponed again until August 23.

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