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Dominique Strauss-Khan and the woman from Guinea-Conakry

By  | 27 July 2011 at 20:07 | 501 views

Commentary

The New York hotel maid who accused the former IMF boss Dominique Strauss-Khan of sexual assault has waived her anonymity rights concealing her identity and privacy, and she now speaks out publicly, concerning the high profile case, where media coverage has turned a legitimate case into a circus rather than a serious allegation that could involve jail time, if Strauss-Khan is found guilty. Because the credibility of the accuser has been under serious assault, a successful criminal trial seem very unlikely. For a criminal case must be proved beyond all reasonable doubts. Although the African maid’s flaws and mistakes of her past could jeopardize her seemingly plausible case that comes up in court in a week’s time. Despite her risky move to redeem her already dented, if not damaged character, which could blemish her chances of getting a reasonably fair trial.

We now know the identity of the accuser. She is Nafissatou Diallo a 32 year-old West African immigrant from Guinea, who was interviewed by the press to get her account of the story out, so that if the criminal suit goes on, prosecutors would consider her personal story to determine whether prosecution should go on. But the burden of proof here is set at a higher bar and not simply admissible. Unlike in a civil case where the plaintiff has to show that she has a marginally stronger case than the defendant, for pain and suffering or assault done to her reputation. Hence the payment of compensation could result. The probability that she would succeed in a civil suit is most likely, since her reputation has suffered a hit in the press where she has been labeled a prostitute, and said having problems telling the truth. But the outcome of the case is not the job of proponents and opponents to decide. It’s the court that navigates the rocky road in ensuring justice without fear or favor.

Speaking out: Nafissatou Diallo said that Strauss-Kahn behaved like a ’crazy man’ when she claims he sexually assaulted her in a New York City hotel room, where he was living. ’God is my witness I’m telling the truth. From my heart. God knows that. And he knows that,’ she told ABC News. Speaking about the alleged assault, she said she saw Strauss-Kahn appear naked in front of her when she opened the door to his suite. He was like ’a crazy man to me,’ she said. ’I was like, I’m so sorry, I turned my head, he come to me and grabbed my breasts, no you don’t have to be sorry ’ Diallo stressed.

’You’re beautiful,’ she reported Strauss-Kahn as saying, and said he attacked her despite her protestations. ’I said, Sir, stop this. I don’t want to lose my job. He said, You’re not going to lose your job ,’ Diallo said. ’I push him. I get up. I wanted to scare him. I said, Look, there is my supervisor right there ,’ she told Newsweek. But Strauss-Kahn said no-one was there to hear. She told ABC: ’I was like stop, stop, stop this, but he keep pushing me, pushing me to the hallway, keep pushing me back to the hallway, I was so afraid, I was so scared.’ Diallo alleges he went on to pull up her uniform dress, tear down her pantyhose, grab her indecently, then grip her head and force her to perform a sex act on him.

A recent statement by Strauss’s lawyers called the interview a last-ditch effort by the maid and her lawyers to extract money from him. She is ’the first accuser in history to conduct a media campaign to persuade a prosecutor to pursue charges against a person from whom she wants money,’ lawyers Benjamin Brafman and William Taylor said. ’Her lawyers and public relations consultants have orchestrated an unprecedented number of media events and rallies to bring pressure on the prosecutors in this case after she had to admit her extraordinary efforts to mislead them.’ Diallo’s lawyers responded, saying Strauss-Kahn’s lawyers ’have conducted an unprecedented smear campaign against the victim of a violent sexual attack’. Her attorney Kenneth Thompson noted that the defense team has said whatever happened in the suite was not forced.

’We are dealing with a brutal sexual attack, a mountain of physical evidence, a victim who spoke out immediately, and numerous corroborating witnesses,’ Mr. Thompson said. The lawyer said she had not been paid for either interview, and had received ’not one dime, not one penny’. It has not yet been determined whether she will speak out further. He said his client had made the decision to come forward herself to clear her name, after the New York Post accused her of being a prostitute. A spokesman for ABC said there were no restrictions on the interview, and when asked whether a licensing fee was paid to secure it told Media Bistro: ’Absolutely not’.

Diallo, who has been kept in hiding with her 15-year-old daughter for weeks since the allegations, said that she wants to return to work in hotel, but would prefer to go to the laundry where she would not have to meet guests rather than continue as a maid. Strauss Khan who was a potential contender for France’s presidency is not a saint either. His background has a blemished history of troubles with women and evidence of more than one accusations of sexual assault. But who is more credible would be the responsibility of the court to decide. The world’s attention is focused with a laser beam scrutiny on this high profile case, waiting to see whether justice is served.

Roland Bankole Marke 2011

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