There is now publicly available surveillance video from the Sofitel Hotel, revealing one of the more puzzling aspects of hotel maid Nafissatou Diallo’s sexual-assault case against Dominique Strauss-Kahn — two employees engaging in some kind of dance celebration in a dark basement corridor that occurred after they called police to report the incident. The “joyful little dance,” as the Associated Press puts it, has been a subject of scrutiny since Edward Jay Epstein of the New York Review of Books pointed to the curious scene that suggests a conspiracy, calling it “what looks like an extraordinary dance of celebration that lasts for three minutes.”
The Review later corrected Epstein’s figure, writing,”Security camera recordings have established that the episode, as described, lasted approximately thirteen seconds, not the three minutes mentioned in the article.” According to the Daily Beast, the workers told their hotel superiors they “couldn’t recall the exact reason for their fleeting celebratory behavior but that they believed it may have involved sports, which they frequently talked about.” Maybe these workers have different standards for celebration, but a sports event warranting an eight-to-thirteen-second celebration is one that is not typically forgettable. The two staffers in the video released by French network BFMTV also told an attorney for Sofitel’s parent group, Accor, that they had “no knowledge of the political status of Dominique Strauss-Kahn before this tape excerpt.”
Of course the dance number is not the only compelling aspect of the video. The Daily Beast reports:
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 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.”
That the filmed reenactment matches Diallo’s account in the interview doesn’t necessarily mean it’s an accurate depiction of what occurred, but it certainly doesn’t damage her case.
If you’re (understandably) only interested in the employees’ little ditty that incorporates some hand-waving and hugging, skip ahead to the 45-second mark. We’d be remiss to not point out that the dance looks a lot like another quasi-famous dance.