This week, the hotel maid who is accusing former IMF head Dominque Strauss-Kahn of attempted rape and forcing her to perform oral sex has gone public with her side of the story—Nafissatou Diallo has done a cover interview in Newsweek and interviews with ABC News in an effort to bolster her case and to counter insinuations that she is a prostitute. Yesterday, she made her first public appearance in front of more than 200 members of the media at the Christian Cultural Center in East New York, an appearance that Post columnist Andrea Peyser believes combined an image makeover with race-baiting to try to turn the public tide to her side.
Diallo, who Peyser says underwent a "glam, head-to-toe makeover" for the event, thanked her supporters, talked about how she and her daughter cry every day and can't sleep, and criticized DA Cy Vance and her detractors: "I've been asking God, Why? Why me?.... I have people call me a lot of bad names. Bad things they call me. That's why I have to be here. A lot of things they say about me is not true." Her short speech came to a conclusion when she explained why she was continuing to : "I told [my daughter] I'm going to be strong for you and every other woman in the world. What happened to me I don't want it to happen to any other woman because this is just too much. It's too much for me and my daughter."
Her lawyer Kenneth Thompson spoke after Diallo left the stage, and made the argument that the reason his client wasn't being taken seriously wasn't because of her checkered past or changing story, but rather because of her race: "If it wasn't for race, if it wasn't for class, do you think [Diallo] would be treated this way?" The Times called the appearance "a moment of high-stakes political theater," and pointed out that the setting was particularly telling: Christian Cultural Center is one of NYC's largest black churches, which summons "echoes of racially charged cases in recent city history."
The Times' Jim Dwyer ultimately felt that Diallo's team was trying to send a message to the Manhattan DA's office, propelled by a nothing-to-lose attitude. But while it's hard to tell what effect the public plea will have on the Manhattan DA, the Daily Beast seems more convinced that she is telling the truth now, citing new interviews with Diallo’s friends and acquaintances that fill in pieces of her background, as well as a fuller view of the audio recording between Diallo and a convicted drug buyer in Arizona that had previously been used to throw her credibility into doubt.