The first hotel-security video footage from the day Dominique Strauss-Kahn was accused of sexually assaulting a hotel housekeeper was leaked to the public Thursday, and France was aflutter over a scene showing two hotel-security workers briefly celebrating after reporting the incident to police. But the more important footage may prove to be of the accuser herself.
The security footage from New York City’s luxury Sofitel Hotel shows housekeeper Nafissatou Diallo in animated fashion as she reenacts for a supervisor part of the alleged sexual assault, then sits sedately outside the hotel-security office as her superiors decided to phone police the afternoon of May 14, 2011, about an hour after she reported the alleged attack.
The footage is the first to emerge publicly of Diallo on that fateful day. It was long ago turned over to Strauss-Kahn’s defense lawyers and the New York City prosecutors, who originally charged DSK with sexual assault and attempted rape in May and then dropped the criminal case three months later because of concerns about Diallo’s credibility.
The hotel-security footage suddenly appeared on the French network BFMTV, just days after a new book emerged in France purporting to give the former IMF director’s side of the story. Strauss-Kahn’s supporters are trying to show he may have been set up by hotel workers for the incident, and an article in the New York Review of Books earlier this month first mentioned the footage showing two security officials jumping into the air in celebration shortly after calling police. That article, however, was later corrected when it erroneously reported the celebration lasted three minutes. In fact, the celebration lasted only eight seconds of a 13-second clip, and the workers have told their hotel superiors they were simply relieved to have finished their investigation and believed they were talking about sports at the time, The Daily Beast previously reported.
Sofitel’s French-based parent, Accor, described the release of the video footage on Thursday. “Despite malicious and unfounded allegations, it is not for Accor to take sides and/or comment on any aspect of this matter. Accor intends to observe a position of strict neutrality in this case. Accor was not favorable to public dissemination of these video sequences, which unnecessarily expose members of the Sofitel New York staff to the curiosity of the media," the company said.
While pundits debate the significance of the security officials’ footage, the section of the tape showing Diallo may end up being more important for her pending civil case against Strauss-Kahn. Diallo has alleged the assault occurred in Strauss-Kahn’s 28th-floor hotel suite shortly after noon on May 14, and she was found by a housekeeping supervisor about a half hour later and reported the attack.
The Beast has previously reported that her hotel colleagues found Diallo in a traumatized state, nervous and uncertain whether she even wanted to report the alleged assault to police for fear she might lose her job. At one point she even reported feeling sick and went to a bathroom because she felt like vomiting. The workers have said they took some time to calm Diallo down, got her to explain in detail to hotel security what had happened, and then brought her down to the hotel’s security office after she was calmed and prepared to talk to police. That entire process took between 45 minutes and an hour, the Beast has reported previously.
The footage appears to show Diallo about the time she calmed down and arrived at the security office. She is still dressed in her light-colored housekeeping uniform, on which police eventually found evidence of Strauss-Kahn’s DNA proving a sexual act had occurred. She is shown sitting quietly in a chair for some time and then becomes animated as one of her housekeeping supervisors begins talking to her about the purported incident, which Strauss-Kahn’s lawyers insist was consensual.
Diallo can be seen on the footage pushing one of her maid supervisors down the hall as she reenacted how Strauss-Kahn allegedly forced her down the hallway of his room, then to the ground before he made her perform oral sex. Her reenactment on the tape matches a description Diallo gave Newsweek in an exclusive interview in July when she first broke her silence about the case. She told the magazine she tried to push Straus-Kahn away until he overpowered her. “I don’t want to hurt him,” she told Newsweek. “I don’t want to lose my job.”
The footage also shows Diallo sitting sedately as one of the security officials makes the 911 call to New York police to report the alleged assault. By that time, Strauss-Kahn had long since checked out of the hotel to have a planned lunch with his daughter and then head to the airport.