DSK sexual assault accuser speaks out in French magazine

A woman who accused former French politician and head of the IMF Dominique Strauss-Kahn of sexual assault has said that he would be “in prison today” if he was poor, nine years after the scandal rocked France.

10 September 2020
Nafissatou Diallo on the cover of Paris Match. DSK sexual assault accuser speaks out in French magazineMs Diallo has spoken out about the case that rocked French politics nine years ago, in a new interview with Paris Match
By Connexion journalist

In an explosive new interview with magazine Paris Match, Nafissatou Diallo - a former New York Sofitel hotel maid - has said that she did “not get justice” in the 2011 case, after legal proceedings were dropped and an undisclosed financial settlement agreed.

Ms Diallo said that she had been discredited during the high-profile case in New York because Mr Strauss-Kahn had “money and power”.

She said: “I assure you, if [Mr Strauss-Kahn] had been poor, homeless, a tramp, he would be in prison today.”

Speaking of her experiences nine years ago, she said: “I told the truth. I was tricked and betrayed. I will never recover from the way that prosecutors in New York treated me. Because of what they made me suffer, I wanted to commit suicide.

“I received death threats, mountains of letters from people I didn’t know, who spoke to me as if I had won the lottery [after the financial settlement], asking me for money. Some accused me of tricking DSK. There were conspiracy theories... I had to leave my apartment and move to a secure building outside of New York.”

Ms Diallo is now working to put her side of the story - including details mentioned in the Paris Match interview - into a new book.

International scandal

The accusation of sexual assault and attempted rape hit global headlines on May 15 2011, as Dominique Strauss-Kahn (often known just as DSK), one-time head of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), former French finance minister, and - some said - a once-possible future President of France, found himself at the centre of an international scandal and high-profile New York trial.

He was arrested onboard a plane back to France, minutes before the flight was set to leave, and indicted on charges including attempted rape, sexual abuse, criminal sexual act, unlawful imprisonment, and forcible touching.

A semen sample matching Mr Strauss-Kahn’s DNA was found on Ms Diallo’s shirt. Mr Strauss-Kahn pleaded not guilty at the trial.

The trial and eventual financial settlement would dominate newspaper headlines for months. Mr Strauss-Kahn resigned from his position as head of the International Monetary Fund, and his rumoured hopes for running as President of France were abandoned.

He was jailed without bail, and later released under house arrest.

But during the trial it was argued that Ms Diallo’s credibility was compromised, as there were inconsistencies found in some of her account. Court papers read that Ms Diallo had been “persistently, and at times inexplicably, untruthful in describing matters of both great and small significance”.

The case was dismissed and settled out of court.

Read more: DSK sex charges 'to be dropped'

Repeated account

But this week, Ms Diallo again recalled her account of the incident. She told Paris Match: “I had just cleaned the neighbouring room, 2820. In the corridor, I asked my colleague if room 2806 was free. She said yes.

“As per the rules, I shouted ‘Housekeeping’ three times. No-one replied. I therefore entered, leaving the door ajar. Suite 2806 is very big. I couldn’t see any luggage. In the living room, I repeated: ‘Housekeeping!’. I was just about to go into the bedroom, when I saw this naked man appear.

“I cried, ‘Oh my god, I am so sorry’ - and then everything happened. And when it was over, I ran away, spitting all over the place.”

Now, Ms Diallo has said that she wants to “create a foundation to help women who, like me, arrived in America without any education, without even speaking the language [and] who have lived through horrible experiences”.

Video surveillance footage from the hotel at the time appears to show Ms Diallo leaving room 2806 after the assault is said to have taken place, and recounting the incident to the hotel security staff.

Further scandal

Mr Strauss-Kahn initially said that sex with Ms Diallo was consensual. However, in a later television interview after the case, he described the incident as “an error” and “a moral failure” that had ruined his chances of becoming President, and which he would forever regret.

Read more: DSK admits ‘moral wrongdoing’

Yet, he was later embroiled in further scandal when a New York journalist, Tristane Banon, accused Mr Strauss-Kahn of attempted rape. Mr Strauss-Kahn admitted attempting to kiss Ms Banon, but the investigation was dropped by French prosecutors due to a perceived lack of evidence.

Read more: Strauss-Kahn rape case thrown out

Read more: DSK faces gang rape charge threat

Separately Mr Strauss-Kahn has been charged with involvement in an organised prostitution ring in Lille (Hauts-de-France), and also accused of allegedly hiring prostitutes in hotels in Paris and Washington. Eight others were also charged in the same case, but Mr Strauss-Kahn was acquitted of all charges on June 12, 2015.

A feature film depicting the scandal - starring Gerard Depardieu as Mr Strauss-Kahn and Isabelle Adjani as Mr Strauss-Kahn’s then-wife, celebrated French journalist Anne Sinclair - was released in 2014. Ms Sinclair later said the film was “disgusting” and the family’s lawyers said they would “sue the producers for libel”.

Mr Strauss-Kahn now lives in Morocco.

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