“NY Post” In Trouble For Accusing Hotel Maid Of Prostitution

Fireworks weren’t the only thing exploding over 4th of July weekend: that’s also when The New York Post published a scathing front-page article about the hotel maid who accused ex-IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn of sexual assault which, among other things, called her a prostitute. The paper quoted an unnamed source “close to the investigation” who said, “There is information … of her getting extraordinary tips, if you know what I mean. And it’s not for bringing extra f**king towels.” It basically insinuated the woman was being pimped out by her union.

The newsprint probably wasn’t even dry before the hotel maid, a refugee from Guinea who lives in the Bronx, filed a libel lawsuit against the Post. Now, as media reporters, like Erik Wemple at The Washington Post, look closer at the Post’s so-called reportage, the prostitution allegation looks even fishier. Instead, it looks more like a smear to make this woman just look like some whore. The Washington Post pointed out how The NY Post quoted an unnamed source who claimed the maid was a prostitute and was placed in the Sofitel hotel to bring in big tips. The unnamed source is quoted at length, but it’s all summarily denied by a union spokesperson, which said the union had nothing to do with her employment whatsoever. Repeated requests for comment from the Post have been sent to its spokeswoman, which have gone unanswered.

To be honest, when the prostitution allegation first broke, I assumed there could be some truth to it. Maybe DSK’s accuser was a sex worker — after all, prostitutes can be sexually assaulted, too. A prostitute may not be what the public perceives to be a “good victim” — a virgin mother who has never drank or done drugs and was raped by a man who jumped out from behind the bushes — but she can still be a victim. It wouldn’t matter to me either way if the accuser sold her body for sex or not.

But the rest of the public likely doesn’t feel that way. In fact, I know they don’t. Last night I watched the HBO documentary “Sex Crimes Unit,” about the Manhattan DA’s office and its pursuit of sex offenders, and one of the narrative threads in the film is about a rapist who raped a prostitute. During the jury selection scene, one of the assistants in the DA’s office comments on how it’s really difficult to pick female jurors who won’t judge another woman for being a prostitute. Not only is a prostitute someone who lives astride of the law to begin with, but some people assume she has put herself in harm’s way and deserves whatever happens to her. No doubt whoever called the hotel maid a whore (whether it’s true or not) knows this about the general public’s opinion. And because it is typically female victims of rape and sexual assault who get called whores, these smears are sexist.

That’s why it’s extremely f**ked up if a major newspaper is allowed to print smears like this and get away with it. If the Strauss-Kahn case goes to trial, he will have witness testimony, DNA evidence and 12 jurors to judge whether he is guilty or not. The hotel maid, apparently, gets tried in the court of public opinion with an anonymous smear.

[Washington Post]
[New York Post]

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