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“I never want to be in public, but I have no choice,” she said, according to ABC News. “God is my witness I’m telling the truth.”

But against the backdrop of uncertainty about her believability and motives, the interviews may raise as many questions as they answer, legal observers said.

“On the one hand, there’s an upside that perhaps it will encourage the prosecutors to move forward with their case. On the other hand, there’s the risk that whatever she says can be used against her in a civil or criminal case, especially with respect to any inconsistencies,” said Sanford Rubenstein, a New York lawyer who has represented victims in noted cases — and advised them not to give interviews while the case was ongoing, he said. His clients have included Abner Louima, a Haitian immigrant who was tortured in a New York City police station bathroom in 1997.

Prosecutors generally discourage potential witnesses in criminal cases from speaking outside court while a case is pending, partly to avoid creating multiple accounts that could diverge, even slightly. In a trial, such gaps can become thin edges of a wedge for adversaries to drive doubts about an accuser’s veracity into jurors’ minds.

“The more that’s out there, the more you’re susceptible on cross-examination,” said Elizabeth Crotty, a defense lawyer and former Manhattan assistant district attorney.

The housekeeper’s interviews also could provide an avenue for Strauss-Kahn’s lawyers to suggest she was out for publicity or cash, a notion that already has shadowed the case. A day after Strauss-Kahn’s arrest, she was recorded alluding to his wealth on a phone call with an incarcerated friend, a law enforcement official has said.

Newsweek said she had not ruled out trying to make some money from her situation, a suggestion that a civil lawsuit could be forthcoming, though she told the magazine, “I don’t think about money.”

The interviews nonetheless could tempt prosecutors to bow out rather than go forward with the case because “she’s already trying it in the court of public opinion,” Gershman said.

The DA’s office has said its investigation, not external factors, will determine the outcome. Communications chief Erin Duggan said Sunday the investigation was continuing and declined to discuss the case further.

In the interviews, Diallo addresses some of the inconsistencies that already have rocked the case.

She testified to a grand jury that after the alleged attack, she cowered in a hallway and watched Strauss-Kahn leave, then told a supervisor. Prosecutors said earlier this month that she later told them she actually had gone on cleaning rooms before consulting her boss. Diallo told Newsweek she was disoriented and went into the rooms briefly before a supervisor appeared and asked why she was upset, but the maid denied changing her account.

Diallo also lied about her background, including by telling prosecutors an emotional story of being gang-raped in her homeland, they said. She told Newsweek she was raped by two soldiers but acknowledged she had embellished her life story on her 2003 asylum application; prosecutors have said she told them she repeated the lies to them to be consistent.

Strauss-Kahn lawyers Benjamin Brafman and William W. Taylor III rapped Diallo for conducting “a media campaign to persuade a prosecutor to pursue charges against a person from whom she wants money.” They are pressing for the case to be dismissed.

Thompson fired back with a statement of his own, saying Strauss-Kahn’s lawyers — who have said whatever happened in the suite wasn’t forced — “have conducted an unprecedented smear campaign against the victim of a violent sexual attack.”

The American Bar Association’s professional conduct rules tell lawyers not to make public statements out of court that are likely to prejudice the case. But the rules don’t apply to their clients and in a heavily covered case like Strauss-Kahn‘s, it’s questionable how much any lawyer’s remark “will affect the jury when there’s so much publicity already out there,” said Ellen Yaroshevsky, a legal ethicist at Yeshiva University’s Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law.