“I am here to tell everybody how much I’m going through,” Diallo said in halting English and a soft, slightly shaking voice to over 100 reporters. “I’m here because people have been calling me a lot of bad names. And I have to let people know a lot of things they say about me are not true.”
It is the second time Diallo has spoken in public, following an interview given to ABC News on Sunday night.
‘I ask God: Why me?’
Before Diallo stepped up to the microphone, her lawyer, Kenneth Thompson spoke briefly. “We not only stand up for Nafi Diallo, we take a stand for every woman around the world who has been raped or sexually assaulted and has been too afraid to speak out,” he said.
After Thompson, a pastor from the centre, AR Bernard, stated that Diallo was there to “thank those individuals and organisations who supported her” since May 14th when she reported the alleged incident.
In her remarks, Diallo spoke of the toll the case had taken on her home life. “Me and my daughter, we’re crying everyday, we can’t sleep,” she said. “My daughter told me: ‘You have to remember this is a powerful man….stop crying, be strong for me.’”
Echoing her lawyer’s statement just minutes before, Diallo said that she was coming forward to speak to encourage others to do the same: “What happened to me, I don’t want that to happen to any other woman,” she stated.
Before stepping away from the microphone, Diallo said: “I ask God, ‘Why me?’”
Strauss-Kahn is due back in court August 23 for a hearing which has been delayed several times as prosecutors overseeing the case against the 62-year-old French politician face the possibility that the case will not proceed to trial.
Meanwhile, Thompson, Diallo's lawyer, said after his client's remarks that he would be filing a civil lawsuit against Strauss-Kahn "soon".
Though the prosecutors overseeing the case have expressed doubts about Diallo’s credibility, her legal team’s new strategy of bringing her into the spotlight has drawn intensified interest to an already front-page case.
According to FRANCE 24 correspondent in New York Nathan King, “all big news networks, both local and national” were represented at the church at which Diallo spoke Thursday.
“At first this was a very New York story, but now with all the twists and turns, the interest has really reignited nationally,” King said. “It is the summer story at the moment - if you discount the debt crisis.”