The maid who accused former IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn of sexual assault has now become the focus of attention, vilified by backers of the Frenchman and seen as a tragic figure by her supporters.
The Guinean immigrant Nafissatou Diallo has filed a civil case against the French politician over the alleged attack in his luxury Manhattan hotel room. This gives Diallo one more shot in court despite the collapse of criminal charges, largely due to problems with her own credibility.
|Attorney Shawn Naunton from the office that represents Doninique Strauss-Kahn, former head of the IMF, confirms to reporters waiting by the house that he returned Strauss-Kahn's passport to his client on August 25, 2011 in new York.|
But the single mother of a 15-year-old daughter could herself be in serious trouble.
Among the risks facing her is expulsion from the United States, following revelations that she lied on her asylum application. She also could face a counter-suit from Strauss-Kahn for damaging his reputation. Or she could simply lose her job at the Sofitel where the whole sordid affair began May 14.
"Nafissatou Diallo is very upset but determined to press ahead and prove to the world that she was assaulted by Strauss-Kahn," her lawyer Douglas Wigdor told AFP.
On Wednesday, Wigdor denounced suggestions that Diallo might herself be sued as "intimidation tactics" by lawyers of Strauss-Kahn, who was head of the International Monetary Fund and a likely candidate for president of France at the time of his arrest.
In another sign of her changing fortunes, the New York Post, which was initially highly critical of Strauss-Kahn, said in an editorial that Diallo is "no longer welcome" in the country.
"Nafissatou Diallo needs to be on an airplane back to her native Guinea as soon as the paperwork can be completed," the tabloid said. "She has no one to blame but herself."
Benjamin Brafman, the high-priced attorney spearheading Strauss-Kahn's defense, described Diallo as "either evil or pathetic or both" and suggested that unnamed "others" could have been using her for their own purposes.
It also remained unclear whether she would be able to return to her job at the luxury Sofitel, part of the French hotel chain Accor, where she was considered a model employee before the May incident.
Even some in the US Guinean community have turned their backs on Diallo, with one member telling The New York Times that she had been ostracized for being "an unlucky woman."
Her supporters see a woman betrayed.
Prosecutors say they simply couldn't pursue their plans to put Strauss-Kahn on trial because the maid, whose testimony was central to the case, kept lying.
But the maid's lawyer, Kenneth Thompson, said Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance had "abandoned an innocent women."
Women's rights groups have also also rallied around Diallo, demonstrating in her support at the courthouse.
On Thursday, Thompson told AFP that "Ms Diallo is simply devastated by the unfairness."