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Strauss-Kahn accuser says she's fighting for other victims

From Susan Candiotti, CNN
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STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Diallo says she and her daughter are "crying every day"
  • Church pastor says Diallo had to "seek an alternate platform"
  • Investigators don't believe her explanation of taped phone conversations
  • Strauss-Kahn maintains his innocence

New York (CNN) -- The hotel maid accusing former IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn of sexual assault took a new step Thursday in her extraordinary public campaign to pressure prosecutors to bring her case to trial.

"What happened to me, I don't want that to happen to any other woman," Nafissatou Diallo told reporters at a Brooklyn church, flanked by her attorney, the church's pastor and about two dozen supporters.

The event came days after Diallo spoke to Newsweek magazine and ABC News, taking the unusual step of giving her first public account of an alleged violent sexual attack by Strauss-Kahn.

A succession of speakers Thursday assailed prosecutors who have indicated they might not bring the case to trial because of concerns over credibility issues about Nafissatou Diallo's past.

The Rev. A.R. Bernard, the church's pastor and CEO, said Diallo "had no recourse but to seek an alternate platform where she could tell the truth." Diallo's advocates insist that no matter what other issues may exist, her case should be brought before a jury.

Strauss-Kahn has maintained his innocence, with his attorneys indicating the May encounter in his hotel room was consensual.

Diallo's attorney Ken Thompson called that "ridiculous" Thursday, and said evidence -- including vaginal bruising -- shows otherwise.

Diallo said Thursday that she and her 15-year-old daughter are "crying every day," and that people are saying a lot of things about her that are not true.

She has filed a libel lawsuit against the New York Post and five of its reporters after the newspaper reported that she was a prostitute. The paper cited anonymous sources and said it stands by its reporting.

Diallo said she promised her daughter, "I'm going to be strong for you and for every other woman in the world."

On July 1, a judge freed Strauss-Kahn from house arrest after prosecutors told the court that Diallo admitted she had lied about the specifics of her whereabouts after the incident and, in the past, the details of an asylum application and information she put on tax forms.

Prosecutors said she admitted lying on the asylum application about having been a victim of a gang rape, even providing details of that attack -- and later admitting it never happened.

Diallo met Wednesday with prosecutors for at least seven hours for discussions centering mainly on controversial jailhouse calls she received from a friend after her alleged assault.

After the meetings, investigators remained unconvinced by Diallo's explanation of what she said in those conversations.

According to a source with knowledge of the case, prosecutors continue to have concerns over how the phone calls can be interpreted -- including whether the housekeeper and her friend discussed making money from the alleged attack by Strauss-Kahn.

Through her attorney, Diallo, who is from the West African nation of Guinea, vehemently denies discussing making money.

She is planning a civil lawsuit against Strauss-Kahn, who was considered a leading candidate for the French presidency before the accusations.

Diallo and her attorney sat with prosecutors Wednesday listening to the recordings of calls to Diallo from an immigration detainee fighting deportation after a drug-trafficking case. The two spoke a Guinean dialect, which prosecutors had translated. Diallo's attorney has challenged the translation and demanded to hear the calls as they were recorded.

In the first call, made the day after the alleged attack, prosecutors and other sources paraphrased Diallo as having said something like, "I know what I'm doing. There's money to be made from this."

Thompson denied that was an accurate description of the conversation between his client and the inmate. Thompson said news reports had quoted sources who paraphrased and merged together different calls, thereby changing the meaning.

He said Thursday that he heard the interpreter state what was on the tape, and that it was clear his client did not say she was taking action to get money out of Strauss-Kahn.

Thompson said Diallo had told her friend in that first call: "A man at her job tried to rape her. They fought, he tried to take her clothes off and, when he couldn't, he made her perform oral sex."

A source with knowledge of the investigation has said Diallo's account of the alleged assault has remained the same.

Thompson said a second call was also misinterpreted. Referring to news reports that described the content of the conversation between Diallo and the inmate, the lawyer said, "I can tell you this, that the guy in jail, the second time they spoke, said, 'He's powerful, he's a rich man.' She did not say, 'I know what to do.'

"When he asked her if she had a lawyer, if she was OK, she said, 'I know what to do' before the guy said anything about Dominique Strauss-Kahn. So when you think about that quote, the quote was misleading, in my opinion. Because the quote made it seem like her sole focus was on his money and how to get his money. Her sole, her primary focus, was on what happened to her, how she was coping with the fact that she had almost been raped."

Thompson described Wednesday's meeting as "open."

Prior meetings between Diallo and prosecutors, who are deciding whether to pursue charges, ended abruptly last month after Thompson accused Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance of "abandoning" her when it disclosed the credibility issues.

In interviews, she has acknowledged making mistakes, but insisted she has told the truth about the alleged attack in the Sofitel hotel suite off Times Square. Authorities have said her account of the incident is credible.

The prosecution has said the investigation is ongoing. "This is a pending criminal case," said Erin Duggan, a spokeswoman for Vance. "We will have no comment on evidence, or on any meetings between prosecutors and witnesses, civil attorneys or defense counsel."

On Tuesday, prosecutors announced the postponement of a status hearing in the case for another three weeks, until August 23.

Strauss-Kahn's attorneys have called for prosecutors to dismiss the case altogether and have denounced Diallo's taking the case to the media, saying she was mounting a media campaign to force a prosecution against an innocent person.

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