- Associated Press - Monday, July 25, 2011

NEW YORK — The hotel housekeeper accusing Dominique Strauss-Kahn of sexually assaulting her is telling her story publicly, she says, because she wants the former International Monetary Fund leader behind bars. But it’s hard to say whether her striking move will help or hobble her goal.

Nafissatou Diallo’s decision to speak out in media interviews is an unusual and risky move for an accuser at this point in a criminal case, legal experts said.

It gives her an empowering chance to tell her side of the story as prosecutors weigh whether to press ahead with the case amid their concerns about her credibility. But it also enshrines a version of events that defense lawyers could mine for discrepancies with her grand jury testimony or use as fodder to argue she was seeking money or public attention.

Whatever the outcome, “it’s an extraordinary turn of events, I would say, for her to go on a kind of lobbying, public relations campaign to get this case tried,” said Pace Law School professor and former prosecutor Bennett L. Gershman.

After staying silent for nearly two months about an alleged attack that Strauss-Kahn vehemently denies, Diallo gave her account to Newsweek and ABC News.

In this undated photo provided by ABC News, Robin Roberts (right) talks to Nafissatou Diallo, the alleged victim in the Dominique Strauss-Kahn assault case. (Associated Press/ABC News)
In this undated photo provided by ABC News, Robin Roberts (right) talks ... more >

Adding details and her own voice to the basics authorities have given, Diallo said the former IMF leader grabbed and attacked her “like a crazy man” in his $3,000-a-night Manhattan hotel suite on May 14 as she implored him to stop and feared for her job.

“I push him. I get up. I wanted to scare him. I said, ‘Look, there is my supervisor right there,’” she told Newsweek in an interview in her lawyer’s office. But Strauss-Kahn said no one was there to hear, she said, and he went on to yank up her uniform dress, tear down her pantyhose, forcefully grab her crotch and then grip her head and force her to perform oral sex.

Strauss-Kahn’s lawyers called the interviews “an unseemly circus” designed to inflame public opinion.

The interviews come with the case against Strauss-Kahn in limbo after Manhattan prosecutors raised doubts about the housekeeper’s overall credibility. They said on July 1 that she had lied about her life story and gave inconsistent descriptions about what she did right after the alleged attack.

The disclosures prompted her lawyer, Kenneth Thompson, to criticize the district attorney, press prosecutors to keep going with the case and even call for a special prosecutor to take over.

Diallo told her interviewers she wants Strauss-Kahn held accountable, and she was going public to tell a story she said had never wavered, to counter misleading portrayals of her and to address doubts about her trustworthiness.

“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 told Newsweek.

Diallo told ABC she didn’t know Strauss-Kahn was a high-profile French politician until later.

“I was watching the news and they said he’s going to be the next president of France,” she said. “I said, ‘Oh, my God.’ I was crying. ‘They’re going to kill me. I’m going to die.’”

Before Sunday, the 32-year-old Guinean immigrant’s name had been reported by some French media outlets but not by major U.S. media, which generally protect the identities of people who say they’ve been sexually assaulted.

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