In May this year, the former head of the International Monetary Fund, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, found himself in jail after accusations surfaced that he had sexually assaulted a chambermaid at a New York hotel. Since then, there have been varying accounts of the situation, with DSK being referred to as “a great seducer”, and the chambermaid’s dark past being uncovered and subsequently used to discredit her story.
The complainant, Nafissatou Diallo, a 32-year-old single mother from Equatorial Guinea has spoken to both Newsweek and ABC’s Good Morning America about the alleged assault. Diallo claims that she was forced into giving oral sex to the French politician. When the incident happened, Ms. Diallo only knew DSK as the naked white haired man who appeared in the doorway of the hotel suite she had been assigned to clean. She identified him in a police lineup.
Doubts over the credibility of the victim put the DSK rape trial in doubt, as if it’s only good girls who can ever be raped. However, the initial claim has since brought forth other victims, so the lesson here is all rape claims need to be taken seriously, as they can encourage other women to come forward if this is part of a pattern of behaviour. Many men who commit sexual assault have done so to other women, and if these allegations don’t come to light, then these men could have sexually harassed or assaulted other women in their company.
A sexual encounter with Diallo definitely took place in Suite 2806 at the New York Sofitel, but this rape trial will now never reach the courtroom. The director of the Crime Victim Treatment Centre in Harlem who examined Ms. Diallo says that he found her “in a state of shock, very shaken, very affected…I didn’t doubt her testimony.” The reason why DSK will never be tried in court for the allegation is that Diallo has since been linked to money laundering and drug dealing. It has also been reported that Ms. Diallo bragged to an acquaintance about the possible outcome of the trial, saying that DSK was “so rich”. Is this something to be frowned upon? I don’t think so. If I had been sexually assaulted while carrying out my daily work, I would be trying to focus on the potential silver lining in the situation as well. Diallo may have been foolish, but I don’t believe that she is particularly greedy or conniving.
This foolishness may not be the only reason that the DSK case didn’t go to trial. Rumours have been circulating that Strauss-Kahn was actually set up, after his discovery that all of the gold held in the United States Bullion Depository located at Fort Knox was ‘missing and/or unaccounted’ for. According to a confidential report, Strauss-Kahn had become ‘increasingly concerned’ earlier this month after the United States began ‘stalling’ its pledged delivery to the IMF of 191.3 tons of gold. This report further states that upon Strauss-Kahn raising his concerns with American government officials, he was contacted by ‘rogue elements’ within the CIA who provided him ‘firm evidence’ that all of the gold reported to be held by the US ‘was gone’.
Although this would provide the American government with a motive to frame DSK, it doesn’t explain the further allegations he is to face in France – where writer Tristane Banon will accuse him of an attempted rape incident, which took place in 2003. Banon described the incident in detail on a French television programme in 2007, but DSK’s name was “beeped out” so viewers were unaware of the identity of the man who she referred to. The situation came about when she went to interview him in a friend’s apartment. Initially insisting that he hold her hand, DSK then grabbed her arm. They ended up on the floor and he pulled down her jeans and undid her bra. “A feisty little thing,” he allegedly commented, as she screamed and kicked him. After freeing herself and fleeing to her car, she called her mother, who dissuaded her from taking action against DSK. A professional associate of Banon’s backed her mother’s advice, saying that it could damage her journalistic career if she attacked such a high profile politician.
Ms. Banon also alleges that Francois Hollande, leader of The Socialist Party and an aspiring presidential candidate, comforted her on the phone after the attack. He has since denied all knowledge of it – Banon’s claims fuel further suspicion that DSK’s compulsive sexual behaviour was covered up by the Socialist hierarchy.
Author Toby Young was quick to claim that certain media figures owe DSK some sort of apology, but I beg to differ. DSK may not have been charged with rape, but he still coerced a chambermaid into performing fellatio on him, before taking his daughter to lunch and then flying out to see his wife. These are not the actions of a man who deserves respect from the world media, politicians and financiers. New York lawyer Jeffrey Toobin perhaps put it best when he wrote on his blog, “his behaviour seems odious at best and criminal at worst.”