Was Nafissatou Diallo denouncing the powerful Dominique Strauss-Kahn for sexual assault an unconscious agitator of the feminine malaise that would crystallize years later in #MeToo? That suggests some testimonies collected in The defendant from room 2806, a Netflix documentary that takes a new look at what happened in that room at the Sofitel hotel in Manhattan on May 14, 2011.
Let’s recap. Strauss-Kahn, just turned 62 years old, is the managing director of the IMF, and the socialist candidate most likely to win the French presidency in the upcoming elections. But DSK is also a sex addict, whose excesses are excused by his fellow party members as sympathetic debauchery, without ever becoming public knowledge. Until that day, when the Sofitel waitress Nafissatou Diallo, thirty years younger, denounced him for sexual assault. DSK is pulled by the police from an Air France plane ready to take off for Paris. It is not a flight, he himself has called the hotel demanding a forgotten mobile. The New York police will display it in one of their bulky shows, particularly successful when the detainee is important. Despite all the paraphernalia, Strauss-Kahn will not even be tried. But his star will inexorably decline
What news does this documentary, divided into four episodes, and directed by Jalil Lespert, about a well-known case bring? Of course, he does not get to unravel – impossible task – what really happened in the luxurious room of the Sofitel. But it does introduce us to Nafissatou Diallo, an immigrant from Guinea Conakry and a single mother, giving her version of events. And he summarizes with priceless film material the political rise of Professor Strauss-Kahn, until he became the great white hope of the socialists to reach the Elysee.
The defendant from room 2806 It also provides an idea of the climate of tolerance for certain male behaviors that prevailed in society just over nine years ago. None of the DSK colleagues gave credit to Diallo’s version, despite the fact that they were all aware that his sex life was bordering on the pathological. Accused of attempted rape by a journalist, and of something very close to sexual harassment by an IMF employee, he would be involved in a pandering case in 2012. His acquittal in the subsequent trial did not prevent irreparable damage to his public image. Of course, some have continued to defend him, convinced that he fell into a trap set by the then French president, Nicolás Sarkozy, aware of the “weaknesses” of his political opponent, and in which the security of the Sofitel hotel would have participated, that It belongs to the French group Accor.
The truth is that the New York prosecution dismissed the case against DSK after finding out that Diallo had falsely presented himself as a rape victim in order to settle in the United States. His testimony was losing value. No judge was interested in the great man’s background. But in the subsequent civil suit, Diallo would receive an undisclosed sum estimated at $ 1.5 million. Strauss-Kahn did not want to participate in The defendant from room 2806, but the documentary includes some statements to French television in which he acknowledges that his sexual encounter with Diallo, although consensual, was “inappropriate”, “an unfortunate mistake”. Later, in an interview on CNN, he would proclaim his innocence, limiting himself to describing his behavior as “heterodox” for a man of his political importance.
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