Can DSK Accuser Nafissatou Diallo Get Her Credibility Back?

What Women Really Think
July 28 2011 12:55 PM

DSK's Accuser Is Looking More Credible, but Will It Matter?           

119987732
Photo by TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images

When it first emerged that the case against Dominique Strauss-Kahn was falling apart, I wrote that even if the victim lied on her asylum application, it didn’t mean that she wasn’t raped and that even those who run afoul of the law are entitled to the same protections as the rest of us.

Rachael Larimore Rachael Larimore

Rachael Larimore is Slate's managing editor.

But then the New York Post started its campaign to show that she was a prostitute, and “evidence” emerged that she had called a friend in an Arizona jail and speaking in Fulani, said “Don’t worry, this guy has a lot of money. I know what I’m doing,” making it look as if she were trying to hustle a wealthy and powerful man.

Advertisement

Those of us who believed the victim, who we now know is named Nafissatou Diallo, were left shaking our heads and sputtering, “Well … well ... he probably still did it” without much to go on except the conviction of our beliefs.

But no one else besides the Post picked up on the prostitute angle, and now Diallo is suing the Post for defamation. Even more relevant, perhaps, she has met with prosecutors and listened to the eight hours of taped phone calls with them. Her lawyer says that what Diallo said in one of those calls was “She said: ‘I didn’t know who he was. We fought each other. Because he wasn’t able to take off my clothes, he put his penis in my mouth. He touched me. They took me to the hospital, and they arrested him.’ ” Kind of the opposite of what earlier reports said.

It’s hard to shake off the belief that there was some kind of smear campaign against the victim. When the NYT originally reported that the case was falling apart, the details they offered were that she lied on her asylum application and that she had “links to people involved in criminal activities.” But from there, within days, everything snowballed to the point where one could easily be led to believe that she was using her position as a maid to turn tricks for wealthy clients and that she finally find a big one ripe for a shakedown.

The thing is, Diallo’s actual behavior this whole time hasn’t matched up with that description. If she were a prostitute or involved in money laundering or drug dealing, wouldn’t she have thought twice before she went to the police with her rape accusation? But she went to them. And since then, she has stood by her story and even gone public—a remarkable step for an alleged victim to take—in interviews with Newsweek and Good Morning America.

It would be nice if the new news in this case had the same snowball effect that the previous news—the “leaks” that destroyed Diallo’s credibility—had. But as Amanda pointed out earlier this week, the bar is higher for those who allege rape than it is for others. And so I’m left believing what I believed weeks ago when Diallo’s credibility was first questioned: Something happened in that hotel, and Diallo has a right to see the man she accused face trial. But I’m not sure it will ever happen.

TODAY IN SLATE

Politics

Meet the New Bosses

How the Republicans would run the Senate.

The Government Is Giving Millions of Dollars in Electric-Car Subsidies to the Wrong Drivers

Scotland Is Just the Beginning. Expect More Political Earthquakes in Europe.

Cheez-Its. Ritz. Triscuits.

Why all cracker names sound alike.

Friends Was the Last Purely Pleasurable Sitcom

The Eye

This Whimsical Driverless Car Imagines Transportation in 2059

Medical Examiner

Did America Get Fat by Drinking Diet Soda?  

A high-profile study points the finger at artificial sweeteners.

The Afghan Town With a Legitimately Good Tourism Pitch

A Futurama Writer on How the Vietnam War Shaped the Series

  News & Politics
Photography
Sept. 21 2014 11:34 PM People’s Climate March in Photos Hundreds of thousands of marchers took to the streets of NYC in the largest climate rally in history.
  Business
Business Insider
Sept. 20 2014 6:30 AM The Man Making Bill Gates Richer
  Life
Quora
Sept. 20 2014 7:27 AM How Do Plants Grow Aboard the International Space Station?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 19 2014 4:58 PM Steubenville Gets the Lifetime Treatment (And a Cheerleader Erupts Into Flames)
  Slate Plus
Tv Club
Sept. 21 2014 1:15 PM The Slate Doctor Who Podcast: Episode 5  A spoiler-filled discussion of "Time Heist."
  Arts
Television
Sept. 21 2014 9:00 PM Attractive People Being Funny While Doing Amusing and Sometimes Romantic Things Don’t dismiss it. Friends was a truly great show.
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 21 2014 11:38 PM “Welcome to the War of Tomorrow” How Futurama’s writers depicted asymmetrical warfare.
  Health & Science
The Good Word
Sept. 21 2014 11:44 PM Does This Name Make Me Sound High-Fat? Why it just seems so right to call a cracker “Cheez-It.”
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.