A recorded conversation by the woman who accuses Dominique Strauss-Kahn of sexually assaulting her in a New York hotel was mischaracterized regarding her remarks about the former International Monetary Fund chief’s wealth, her lawyer said.
The 32-year-old immigrant spoke to a friend imprisoned in Arizona within a day of the May 14 incident, a person familiar with the matter said earlier this month. She told the friend, “Don’t worry. This guy has money. I know what I’m doing,” according to the person, who didn’t want to be identified because the information wasn’t public. The information came from a digest of the tape translated from the accuser’s native Fulani.
“We all listened to that tape over and over again,” the lawyer, Kenneth Thompson, told reporters yesterday after meeting for almost eight hours with prosecutors at the office of Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. “What she said was, ‘He is powerful and rich,’ during one conversation,” he said. “She never said, ‘He’s got a lot of money. I know what to do’” as it was made public.
Thompson said certain things were “merged together” in the quote that made its way into news reports.
Erin Duggan, chief spokeswoman for Vance, declined to comment yesterday on the tape and the meeting. “This is a pending criminal case,” she said in a statement. “We will have no comment on evidence, or any meetings between prosecutors and witnesses, civil attorneys, or defense counsel.”
Thompson, a former federal prosecutor representing the hotel housekeeper, said the discussion with prosecutors yesterday went well.
It was the first meeting between the alleged victim, Nafissatou Diallo, and prosecutors since late June, when her credibility was called into question.
According to a letter Vance filed in court on July 1, Diallo lied to a grand jury about her actions right after the alleged attack, as well as on her tax returns and in an application for asylum.
Diallo, who arrived with Thompson for the meeting yesterday after 10 a.m., wasn’t seen leaving with him. Diallo has revealed her identity in on-the-record and on-camera interviews.
‘Powerful Big Man’
Thompson said that Diallo told her imprisoned friend what Strauss-Kahn did to her the first time they spoke. “She told that gentleman somebody tried to rape me and he’s a powerful big man.” Thompson said she told the friend that she fought with her attacker and that he made her do things she didn’t want to do.
Diallo, according to court filings, said Strauss-Kahn grabbed her breasts and tried to pull down her pantyhose in his hotel room on May 14. He attempted to rape her and forced her to engage in oral sex, according to the indictment. Strauss-Kahn, 62, has pleaded not guilty.
Strauss-Kahn was taken off an Air France flight by Port Authority police at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York, hours after the alleged attack at the Sofitel in midtown Manhattan.
At a May 16 hearing, prosecutors asked that Strauss-Kahn be held without bail, saying the evidence was compelling that he was a flight risk because France doesn’t extradite its citizens.
Strauss-Kahn was incarcerated until May 20, when a judge allowed him to be released under house arrest over a prosecutor’s objections. At the July 1 hearing, citing the accuser’s credibility issues, prosecutors agreed to allow Strauss-Kahn to be released without bail, pending further investigation.
The housekeeper stated in a 2004 application for asylum that she had been raped by Guinean soldiers, prosecutors said in their June 30 letter to defense lawyers that was filed in court. She also said that she and her husband had been persecuted and harassed by the dictatorial regime then in power in Guinea. She said her house was burned and her husband died while in jail.
The woman said she fabricated the story with the assistance of a man who provided her with a cassette recording of the facts contained in the statement that she eventually submitted, according to the letter.
On June 28, the woman also changed her story about what happened immediately after the incident in the Sofitel on West 44th Street, a story she had given to the grand jury that indicted Strauss-Kahn on seven counts, including a criminal sex act, attempted rape, sexual abuse, unlawful imprisonment and forcible touching.
The woman told the grand jury that after the assault, she fled to an area of the main hallway on the 28th floor and waited until she saw Strauss-Kahn leave the room, according to the June 30 letter.
She said she then reported the incident to her supervisor, who arrived a short time later, according to the letter.
The housekeeper on June 28 “admitted that this account was false and that after the incident in suite 2806, she proceeded to clean a nearby room and then returned to suite 2806 and began to clean it before she reported the incident to her supervisor,” according to the letter.
The following day, on June 29, prosecutors obtained the translated summary of the recorded phone call in which the housekeeper discussed the incident with a friend incarcerated in Arizona, said the person familiar with the matter.
Strauss-Kahn’s next scheduled court appearance is Aug. 23.
The case is People v. Strauss-Kahn, 2526/11, New York State Supreme Court, New York County (Manhattan).