….as the Dominique Strauss Kahn/Nafissatou Diallo matter gets even uglier, and the race/gender cards get thrown down…
I spent some time this morning reading the prosecutor’s recommendation for dismissal, which is a bombshell document. (And compelling reading.) For example:
14 In her interviews of June 9 and June 28, the complainant stated that she had indeed been raped in the past in her native country, but in a completely different incident than the one that she had described in her earlier interviews. Our interviews of the complainant yielded no independent means of investigating or verifying this incident.
15 On occasion, the complainant’s untruths were accompanied by dramatic displays of emotion. In the course of one interview, the prosecutor asked the complainant about a particular personal circumstance, and she calmly responded in the negative to the inquiry. In an interview two days later, she was asked a more specific question about the same subject. In response, she dropped to the floor, and physically rolled around while weeping; once composed, she said that she did not know the answer to the prosecutor’s question. In yet a later interview, the prosecutor revisited the issue. This time, the complainant responded affirmatively, in a matter-of-fact manner, to the question.
The dry language of a legal brief can’t mask what must have been a surreal scene—and I mean scene in a couple different senses of the word—for the prosecutors.
After reading this motion, one has to consider the allegation of rape highly suspect. But regardless of what happened in that hotel room, Nafissatou Diallo would have been a disastrous witness, and the prosecutor’s office is right not to bring the case.
What will happen next? Well, there’s a civil suit in the works, so expect Diallo’s lawyer, Kenneth Thompson, to play the gender and race cards. He’s given every sign of preparing to do just that. That’s what the TV interview with ABC (think it was a coincidence that interviewer Robin Roberts—who fondly refers to Diallo as “Nafi” thoughout the segment—is black?) and the print interview with Newsweek were for: to lay the groundwork for a civil suit in which racial and gender sentiment is mobilized to create so much hostility that Strauss Kahn will write a check rather than endure it. Exhibit 1: This photo from the NYT piece on the recommendation to dismiss.
Why exactly does Diallo need those massive bodyguards…except to suggest that she’s in constant danger of becoming a martyr?
(Incidentally, we’re running a piece about bodyguards in Worth by our security columnist, Paul Viollis, and one of the points he makes is that if you’re really worried about your safety, you don’t hire bruisers like this. They’re usually bar bouncers making an extra buck, and hiring them is more about making a statement than keeping you safe. In this case, the statement is pretty clear.)
The irony of all this, of course, is that Diallo’s race has only been an asset to her in the public perception of the case, and probably boosted the prosecutor’s original trust in her. There was of course the perception of Diallo as a saintly African woman, supporting herself and her daughter by cleaning up after rich white men. (C.f. The Help.) The power imbalance, of which race was certainly a part, made many people (myself included) more sympathetic to Diallo than perhaps we should have been without having more of the facts.
Then there was the perception of Diallo as already a victim. Why were prosecutors so quick to believe her bogus story of being gang-raped by soldiers? Was it because she’s from Africa and, well, that sort of thing just happens there all the time? If Diallo had been a white woman from, say, Russia, would we have wondered more about that story? We lived through this already with Tawana Brawley…but people forget.
None of this is to exculpate Dominique Strauss Kahn, who clearly has some serious issues with women. (How serious, it’s hard to know.) In any event, his reputation is in tatters, his career almost surely over. Is this justice? Maybe. We’ll see. But if you read the document linked to above, there’s just one conclusion you can draw with certainty: Nafissatou Diallo is a chronic liar and this criminal case could never have been prosecuted.