NEW YORK, July 27, 2011 (AFP) - The lawyer for a New York maid who has accused Dominique Strauss-Kahn of attempted rape said Wednesday that a phone recording proved she was no gold-digger after the ex-IMF chief's money.
Lawyer Kenneth Thompson said he and Nafissatou Diallo spent eight hours with prosecutors from the district attorney's office listening to and translating a phone recording which prosecutors said had raised doubts about her credibility -- thereby putting the future of a trial in doubt.
|AFP - Nafissatou Diallo is reflected in a car window is pushed into a waiting car as she leaves the office of Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance on July 27, 2011|
It was clear Diallo "never said the words" attributed to her by a US newspaper claiming that she knew Strauss-Kahn had a lot of money, Thompson told reporters outside the Manhattan DA's office.
"I'm telling you that certain things were said that were merged together in this quote that was given to The New York Times," Thompson told reporters.
Strauss-Kahn, 62, a veteran French politician, has denied seven charges of attempted rape and sexual assault arising out of the incident in his Sofitel luxury hotel suite in Manhattan on May 14.
Diallo revealed her identity for the first time on Sunday saying she wanted to clear her name after a New York tabloid claimed she was a prostitute and was after Strauss-Kahn's money, and also because she said she was seeking justice against her alleged attacker.
The New York Times, in early July, quoted a law enforcement official saying that during a phone conversation with a man jailed in the United States for possessing marijuana, Diallo "says words to the effect of, 'Don't worry, this guy has a lot of money. I know what I'm doing.'"
Thompson said both sides had reviewed the recording of the tape Wednesday with an interpreter who spoke Diallo's native Guinean language of Fulani.
"We have been listening to that tape, and that tape shows that the victims never said the words" attributed to her, Thompson said.
"She told that gentleman that 'Someone tried to rape me and that he's a powerful, big man.'"
That fight over what Diallo said is central to the more important issue of whether the maid is a credible complainant or -- as prosecutors fear -- may be too compromised to face up to cross-examination in court.
After the day-long meeting, a spokeswoman for District Attorney Cyrus Vance refused to give any detailed comment.
"This is a pending criminal case. We will have no comment on evidence, or on any meetings between prosecutors and witnesses, civil attorneys, or defense counsel," said spokeswoman Erin Duggan in a statement.
Meanwhile, a community support group said Diallo and Thompson would give a press conference at midday (1600 GMT) on Thursday at a Christian cultural center in Brooklyn.
Asked about seeking damages in a civil suit, Thompson said that "at the end of the day, Miss Diallo has the right to assert her own private course of action."
"There is nothing wrong with a woman who's been almost raped to file a lawsuit."
Strauss-Kahn is not due back in court until August 23 for a hearing which has been delayed several times as prosecutors grapple with the apparently growing possibility that they will not bring the high-profile case to trial.
Diallo, 32, said Sunday that she had decided to go public after 10 weeks in hiding because: "I want justice. I want him to go to jail. I want him to know you cannot use your power when you want to do something like this."
In an interview with ABC television, she talked forcefully in heavily accented, but mostly fluent English about the sequence of events she says took place in the 28th floor suite at the Sofitel hotel.
She recounted the incident, saying Strauss-Kahn, once seen as a leading contender to be the next president of France, emerged naked from a shower to "grab my breasts" and despite her pleas, forced her head down to his penis.
Strauss-Kahn's experienced legal team has slammed the media blitz as an attempt to pressure prosecutors into going ahead with the criminal case, without which a potentially lucrative civil lawsuit might face difficulties.