Disgraced former chief of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Dominique Strauss-Kahn, widely known by just his initials DSK, has faced several investigations over the last few years into allegations that he took part in sex parties and acted as a pimp for prostitutes. There's also been much speculation about the incident that took place in New York back in 2011 that caused him to resign from his position as head of the IMF. This particular allegation was made by hotel housekeeper and asylum seeker, 32 year old Nafissatou Diallo, who claimed that Strauss-Kahn attempted to rape her at the upmarket Sofitel New York Hotel in Manhattan on May 14th, 2011.
The charges of sexual assault and attempted rape were eventually dismissed at the request of the prosecution, after they admitted to having serious doubts about the credibility of their client, Diallo. This, combined with inconclusive physical evidence, led to the complete dismissal of the case.
A civil case was also filed against Strauss-Kahn
Diallo also filed a civil case against Strauss-Kahn on August 8th 2011. After the dismissal of the prosecution case, Strauss-Kahn accused Diallo of lying about the whole incident, and stated that he wouldn't be drawn into negotiations for Diallo's civil suit. In fact, he'd filed a counter-suit of his own, claiming that her false allegations had cost him his job and other professional opportunities. Both civil suits were eventually settled in December 2012, together with a separate suit against the New York Post, who had published reports in their newspaper that Diallo had been a prostitute. Diallo's settlement was believed to have been $1.5 million, which probably amounted to around $1 million after costs.
Following his arrest, DSK resigned from his position as head of the IMF
Prior to the dismissal of the charges, Strauss-Kahn had been indicted and placed under house arrest in Manhattan after he'd posted $1 million bail. After re-assessing the case, the prosecutors admitted that the housekeeper's story had very little credibility, and asked for the judge to dismiss all charges. During this period, there were many conspiracy theories surrounding the incident particularly as Strauss-Kahn, who was head of the International Monetary Fund at the time of the alleged attack, was a promising contender for the position of French President, running against the then incumbent president, Nicolas Sarkozy. Following his arrest, DSK resigned from his IMF post.
The alleged sexual assault and attempted rape
Strauss-Kahn was arrested on May 14th 2011 and charged with the several counts of sexual assault, attempted rape and false imprisonment. The allegations were made by Diallo who, at the time, worked as a housekeeper at the Sofitel New York Hotel, claiming that DSK attacked her on the 14th May 2011 as she tried to clean his room. The housekeeper alleged that Strauss-Kahn was naked, and that he ran at her, keeping her prisoner in his hotel room and forcing her to perform oral sex on him. He also sexually abused her and attempted to rape her.
Diallo proved to be an unreliable witness, changing her story many times
As part of his defence, Strauss-Kahn's team of lawyers hired a private detective agency to find out more about Diallo, who had come to the USA from the West African state of Guinea as an asylum seeker. On June 30th 2011, the defence team received a letter from the district attorney disclosing information about Diallo which severely undermined her credibility. The New York Times also reported that Diallo had admitted to lying about what had actually happened and that she'd changed her story several times in regard to what she'd been doing before she came into contact with Strauss-Kahn. The defence team also discovered that there were discrepancies about what she'd put in her application for asylum. She'd also claimed to have only one mobile phone, while it was found that she was paying out hundreds of dollars to five separate phone companies. Furthermore, despite the fact that she was employed as a housekeeper, she'd deposited almost $100,000 into her bank account in just under two years.
Diallo also claimed that she'd been gang raped by a group of soldiers in Guinea; a story which was later discovered to be a complete fabrication. For two weeks, she kept up the pretence, crying as she told the story and even showing the prosecutors scars from injuries which she claimed had been received as a result of the rape, before finally admitting that she'd been lying all along. To put the final nail in the coffin, it was discovered that she'd made a phone call to her boyfriend who was at that time incarcerated in an immigration detention centre, telling him not to worry, as this guy (supposedly Strauss-Kahn) had a lot of money and she knew what she was doing.
The prosecution filed for a dismissal of all charges
By 22nd August 2011, the prosecutors no longer believed that they had a case and so filed for a dismissal of all charges against Strauss-Kahn. This was accompanied by a 25-page document which outlined all the discrepancies, including the fact that while there was physical evidence that a sexual encounter had taken place (there was semen belonging to DSK on Diallo's shirt), it didn't prove that force had been used or that sex had taken place without consent. It also noted that Diallo had been untruthful on many occasions, particularly in regard to her story of the gang-rape in Guinea, which she claimed was the reason for her claiming asylum in the USA, especially as this claim was not even included in her application for asylum. It also detailed the fact that she'd changed her version of the events that had happened before, during and after the alleged assault, not just once, but several times. In light of all these inconsistencies, the prosecution stated that they could no longer believe Diallo's version of events beyond reasonable doubt, and they didn't believe that any jury could be expected to do so either.
Following the dismissal of the charges, and Strauss-Kahn's return to Paris, he accused Diallo of lying about the encounter, although he did admit that the whole thing had been an error on his part.
Was it a conspiracy theory?
Prior to the incident in New York, Strauss-Kahn had already expressed his concern that there would be attempts made to try and frame him with a fake rape and, indeed, following his arrest over half of the French public believed that he had been set up and that he was the innocent victim of a smear campaign. Strauss-Kahn's wife refused to believe the accusations and even Vladimir Putin thought that the allegations had been fabricated, despite the fact that Strauss-Kahn was known to be a habitual womaniser. Nevertheless, several people, including his ex-wife, came to his defence claiming that while he did like to seduce women, he never used violence.
Strauss-Kahn faced further investigations
In 2012, Strauss-Kahn was set to face a fresh investigation into allegations that he participated in a gang rape and that he had a penchant for rough sex. Also facing charges for pimping, it was alleged that this particular incident took place in Washington in December 2010. Strauss-Kahn once again denied the allegations, saying that he "absolutely contests having committed the slightest act of violence of any nature whatsoever" and that he was totally unaware that the women who took part in the sex parties (which he called 'festive afternoons') had been escorts. His defence claimed that it's hard to tell whether women are prostitutes or not when they are naked. Furthermore, DSK vigorously denied the charge of aggravated pimping, which was based on the allegation that he had aided and abetted the prostitution of seven women.
All the allegations have had a considerable impact on the life of Dominique Strauss-Kahn
Despite the fact that the case against Diallo finally came to a close with a financial payment made to Diallo to settle the civil suit, all these allegations have cost Strauss-Kahn dearly. He not only lost his job as head of the IMF, but it ended any chance he had at becoming the next president of France, particularly as more details of his shocking lifestyle hit the press, together with a plethora of other sexual allegations. It's thought that all these allegations and controversy also played a part in his separation from his journalist wife, Anne Sinclair.
What happened to Nafissatou Diallo?
Amidst this storm, what happened to the asylum seeker from Guinea? Following the settlement of the civil lawsuit, Nafissatou Diallo, the former housekeeper, used some of her estimated $1 million payout to set up an African restaurant, called Chez Amina, in the Bronx area of New York. Serving up West African specialities such as tieupu yap, jollof fice, and fufu, the new restaurant owner refused to talk about the case which made her infamous, and she has always vigorously denied claims by the New York Post that she was part of a prostitution ring. The article which appeared in the July 2nd 2011 edition of the newspaper says that Diallo "wasn't just a girl working at a hotel, but that she was a working girl", and that she was "doing double duty as a prostitute, collecting cash on the side from male guests". However, since the New York Post had to pay a considerable sum in damages for their allegations, this particular accusation was never proved or corroborated.
So perhaps we'll never know the whole truth about what happened in that Manhattan hotel room back in 2011, although what we do know is that it possibly changed political history in France, and it certainly changed the lives of both of the people involved.