Even if you don’t know Nafissatou Diallo by name, you surely know her by reputation: The 32-year-old maid made headlines when she accused former IMF chief and French presidential favorite Dominique Strauss-Kahn of attempting to rape her at the Sofitel hotel, where she worked, in May.
Diallo granted Newsweek her first interview for the most recent issue of the magazine.
From Guinea originally, Diallo faced the death of a husband and infant daughter and was raped and arrested by soldiers before arriving in the U.S. in 2003.
Diallo claimed that she walked into room 2806, one of the hotel’s presidential suites, and called out to make sure it was empty. Then Strauss-Kahn leapt, naked, out of another room. Before she could escape the room, he had grabbed at her breasts, shoved her uniform shirtdress up and grabbed her crotch so hard it would bruise, then forced his penis into her mouth.
After reporting the incident to police, and Strauss-Kahn’s subsequent arrest, Diallo and her teenage daughter were placed in protective custody, not even allowed to return to their apartment to collect their possessions, for two months.
Diallo feared for her life when she realized the scope of Strauss-Kahn’s power.
“I watched Channel 7 and they say this is [the] guy—I don’t know—and he is going to be the next president of France,” she said. “And I think they are going to kill me.”
Despite her fear and the media field day with her reputation (the New York Post in particular has been cruel to her, both calling her a prostitute and claiming that she is HIV-positive), Diallo said she wants to see Strauss-Kahn brought to justice.
“I want him to go to jail. I want him to know there are some places you cannot use your power, you cannot use your money,” she said. “We are poor, but we are good.”