- (Photo: Reuters / Lucas Jackson)
Nafissatou Diallo, the Manhattan maid accusing former International Monetary Chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn of attempted rape inside his hotel room, has now got the support of the Christian Cultural Center, a megachurch in New York.
Diallo, a 32-year-old Guinean Muslim immigrant, held a press conference at the church last week, the first since she made the allegation on Strauss-Kahn in mid-May, and targeted the 62-year-old former IMF chief as well as Manhattan district attorney Cyrus Vance, Jr., who is investigating the case, The Telegraph reported Sunday.
Diallo’s lawyer, Ken Thompson, a member of the megachurch in eastern Brooklyn, is believed to be behind the press conference. The church has over 30,000 members.
“We (Diallo and her 15-year-old daughter) cry every day. We can’t sleep,” Diallo said, according to The Associated Press. It was “too much for me, too much for my daughter. A lot of people [are] calling me a lot of bad names. I hear a lot of things, a lot of bad things. I say ‘God why me, why me?’”
The Rev. A.R. Bernard, the pastor of the non-denominational church, showed support, commenting, “I think, and hope, that he’s (Vance) intelligent enough to understand what has been implied here,” as reported by The Telegraph.
Bernard was reminding Vance of his position, which is an elected one, as the attorney was allegedly thinking of dropping the case after his investigators uncovered some lies by Diallo.
The press conference, attended by “pastors, lawyers, politicians and activists, including a prominent figure in the New Black Panther Party,” was held last Thursday.
Former police official Noel Leader from the 100 Black Officers in Law Enforcement Who Care group alleged the case was facing racial, gender, and class issues. “Does race play a role … does her gender play a role … is this a class issue? Whatever it is, it is wrong,” he said.
Accusing Vance of “throwing this victim of sexual abuse under a bus” and “re-victimizing our sister,” Leader suggested that black communities should withdraw political support from the district attorney.
Many, including legal experts, are pondering why Diallo, if she really is a sexual assault victim, continues to speak out and show her face in the media at a time when the legal case is underway, according to the New York-based YNN channel.
But her supporters say she has been forced to do so. “When you are afraid and your back is against the wall and you are crying out for help, you do not do so behind a closed door,” Lisa Jenkins, a professor of York College, said at the conference. “You knock down the doors and do what is possible and necessary so your cry for help can be heard.”
Diallo’s lawyer, Thompson, insists that the district attorney is obliged to prosecute Strauss-Kahn and that even if criminal charges are dropped his client will file a civil suit seeking damages, according to AP.
“What she wants is justice and if the prosecutors are not going to bring this case to trial then we have to look for justice and what I look forward to is putting this case before a jury,” he told the press conference.
Strauss-Kahn’s lawyers maintain that any sexual act with Diallo in the 28th floor suite of the Sofitel hotel was consensual and that she was merely pursuing financial gain. Strauss-Kahn also appointed private detectives to investigate Diallo’s background in an attempt to prove the allegation was false.
The Manhattan District Attorney’s office says the investigation is in progress “although prosecutors have suggested the case has been weakened because of Diallo’s credibility,” according to YNN.
Strauss-Kahn, the French economist, lawyer, and politician who resigned from the IMF position on May 18, is due back in court for a hearing on August 23.