Strauss-Kahn goes on privately as maid goes public

NEW YORK (AP) — She’s on a magazine cover and national television, telling her emotional and explicit story of being sexually attacked by Dominique Strauss-Kahn and pressing for him to be tried.

But while Nafissatou Diallo’s interviews marked a dramatic turn in the public narrative surrounding the case, they may have far less impact on prosecutors’ private investigation and deliberations about whether to keep pursuing her troubled case — a process that seems to be becoming, if anything, more complex as it heads toward an Aug. 1 court date.

The Manhattan district attorney’s office declined to comment on Diallo’s statements and remained mum about its plans Monday, as the hotel housekeeper’s interviews aired on ABC’s “Good Morning America” and appeared on newsstands in a Newsweek cover story. ABC News planned to broadcast more of its interview on “World News with Diane Sawyer” and “Nightline.”

“I want justice. I want him to go to jail,” Diallo told ABC News.

The former International Monetary Fund leader, who was considered a top contender for France’s presidency, denies the attempted rape and other charges. His lawyers decried Diallo’s interviews Monday as “a desperate distraction” from what prosecutors have said was her history of lies about her background and inconsistencies about her actions right after the alleged attack.

With her interviews, the 32-year-old Guinean immigrant ripped off the veil of privacy that authorities had kept around her. Prosecutors have provided her with housing and paid her daily expenses to keep her from the media maelstrom.

She defied prosecutors’ conventional wisdom about accusers and alleged victims speaking publicly before a trial — it’s generally seen as providing defense lawyers a lode of material to mine for contradictions and questions. Her move could widen a rift between prosecutors and their key witness, who hasn’t spoken with them since late June while her lawyer called for a special prosecutor after the district attorney’s office said it had developed doubts about her trustworthiness.

It’s a daring and chancy strategic move for the maid and her lawyers, legal observers said.

“On the one hand, her lawyers felt they needed to up the ante because they feared the DA had lost his resolve,” said Bradley Simon, a Manhattan criminal defense attorney and former federal prosecutor. “On the other hand, this has to make the DA’s office quite unhappy. The more you talk, the more there’s fodder for cross-examination and impeachment. That’s a big problem.”

The interviews also could make the prospect of pursuing the case less attractive to prosecutors simply because defense lawyers could paint her as a publicity-seeker, said Pace Law School professor and former Manhattan assistant prosecutor Bennett L. Gershman.

Prosecutors could say, “she’s already trying it in the court of public opinion,” he said.

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