Dominique Strauss Khan is a free man grace à la dexterity of a high-powered legal team or the checkered history of a hotel maid from Guinea. As the story has been told, on May 14th, a maid entered suite 2806 in the Sofitel Hotel. A sexual encounter ensued. He says it was consensual, she says it was forced.
Public sympathy seemed to be in her favour. The New York Police swiftly apprehend DSK and jailed him in Rikers Island. He resigned from his post as head of the IMF and hired the best legal team money can buy to defend his innocence. The tide changed. The media pounced on the defendant. They released pictures of her and even insinuated that she may be HIV positive. As the weeks grew, they found inconsistencies in ALL her accounts. Her bank account, her tax account and her immigration account.They uncovered that she has dealings with dodgy people who deposit thousands of dollars into her bank account. They found that she lied about being gang raped on her INS form, and that she reported a lower income on her IRS form to live in low income housing. These inconsistencies have shredded her credibility and now nobody believes her.
Dominique Strauss Khan is now the victim. His reputation has been sullied. He lost his job, and possibly a chance to become the president of France. What has been forgotten is his checkered past. In 2008, he was reprimanded by the IMF for having an affair with his junior, a Hungarian Economist called Piroska Nagy. In 2002, Tristane Banon accused DSK of sexual assault, and according to the book Sexus Politicus, DSK has a long rap sheet of women who have felt sexually harassed by him. His allies come to his defense. They are powerful men in the media and in politics and they are quick to point out that DSK is a seducer, not a rapist or a liar. The maid on the other hand, has no allies powerful, or otherwise to come to her defense. She is from a small village in Guinea called Thiakoulle. When she was still a teenager, she was made to marry her cousin and became a mother and a widow soon after. With no formal education, she moved to USA in 2002 and applied for asylum. The events of May 14th have put her under the scrutiny of the media’s microscope, and she can not stand tête à tête with the powerful DSK. Her reputation has be devastated, her immigration status is in jeopardy, her accounts frozen, her family back home besieged with interviews. She remains in hiding.
Perhaps she does not deserve my sympathy, but she has it. She did what many of us have done before: she lied on a document and it has come back to crucify her. No one knows what went on in that room but the accused and the defendant. Maybe in the days to come she will recant her story and apologize. Maybe her lawyer Kenneth Thompson will reveal the promised forensic evidence of a violent sexual assault so the world will know that she was indeed violated. But she is not talking to the public. One of the few people she has been in contact with since the incident is a jailed boyfriend. In her native Fula she explained: “Don’t worry, this guy has money, I know what i am doing.” Except that she did not. DSK is now a free man. Free to eat pasta and truffles in New York’s finest restaurants. Once again, the maid got screwed. As the french would say, Merde!