Maid speaks out, seeks jail for Strauss-Kahn
A Guinean woman who has accused former IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn of trying to rape her in a New York hotel broke her silence Sunday, saying she wants him to go to jail and to clear her name.
"Because of him, they call me a prostitute," she told Newsweek magazine in her first public interview since the alleged attack by the former powerful French politician in a Manhattan hotel suite in May.
"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 was fighting back against allegations that appeared in the US media, after New York prosecutors openly questioned her credibility, saying she had changed her story and lied on her asylum application.
There were also media reports of possible links to criminal activities and that she was recorded speaking by phone with a boyfriend jailed for possessing marijuana and discussing the benefits of pursuing charges.
The woman has not been seen in public since the alleged attack and said she was whisked away to a hotel with her 15-year-old daughter and not allowed to return to her apartment for two months.
She was also due to appear on ABC's "Good Morning America" Monday, exactly a week before Strauss-Kahn is due back in court in New York on August 1 for his next hearing on seven charges of attempted rape and sexual assault.
"I want justice. I want him to go to jail," the woman, who AFP has chosen not to name in line with its policy of protecting victims of alleged abuse, told ABC.
"God is my witness. I'm telling the truth. From my heart. God knows that. And he knows that," she said, according to excerpts released on Sunday.
Seeking to address some of the prosecutors concerns, she told Newsweek she did not have any boyfriends, just friends who had taken advantage of her, and she had mistakenly trusted one enough to give him access to her bank accounts.
She admitted "mistakes" to ABC but insisted that her account of what happened inside the hotel room has remained the same even if the timeline surrounding the circumstances of when she ran away changed because she had been disorientated.
But Strauss-Kahn's lawyers Sunday renewed a call for the charges to be dismissed, accusing the 32-year-old illiterate immigrant of organizing an unprecedented media campaign and trying to "inflame public opinion."
The maid's attorney in turn accused the ex-IMF chief's team of engaging in a "smear campaign" replete with "baseless" and "contemptible" attacks.
"They are defense attorneys, and clearly believe that these types of false personal attacks are part of their job description," Kenneth Thompson said.
"But that excuse isn't sufficient when we are dealing with a brutal sexual attack, a mountain of physical evidence, a victim who spoke out immediately, and numerous corroborating witnesses."
The former French politician once seen as a leading contender to become the next president of France has denied all the charges arising from the May 14 incident.
But the allegations in the United States have also prompted a French writer, Tristane Banon, to accuse Strauss-Kahn -- who had earned a reputation as a womanizer -- of attempted rape in 2003.
He has denied having any detailed knowledge of that attack, but it led to top fellow Socialist presidential hopeful Francois Hollande being quizzed by police last week.
Strauss-Kahn's US accuser was working as a chamber maid when she says she was attacked in a suite on the Sofitel's 28th floor.
The maid told Newsweek she had called out "Hello, housekeeping" as she entered the room, before a naked man with white hair appeared.
"Oh, my God," she said. "I'm so sorry." And she turned to leave. "You don't have to be sorry," the man allegedly replied. But he was like "a crazy man to me."
She said the man clutched her breasts and slammed the door. He allegedly then pushed her to her knees, gripped her head hard and tried to force his penis into her mouth. "He was moving and making a noise. He was going like 'uhh, uhh, uhh,'" the woman said.
"I got up. 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."
She said the whole incident took less than 15 minutes and as she hid in the corridor trying to compose herself, she saw him come out of his room dressed, with his luggage. He nodded at her and then stared straight ahead, saying nothing.
But Strauss-Kahn's lawyers slammed her attorneys' behavior as "unprofessional."
"Her lawyers know that her claim for money suffers a fatal blow when the criminal charges are dismissed, as they must be," William Taylor and Benjamin Brafman said.