Diallo thanked her supporters and made an emotional public appeal for people to believe her story [AFP]

Nafissatou Diallo, the hotel maid who accused French politician Dominique Strauss-Kahn of of sexual assault, has thanked her supporters during her first public appearance.

The 32-year-old Guinean was known only as the "DSK maid" since accusing the former IMF chief of assaulting her on May 14 at his Manhattan hotel room.

Diallo spoke to more than 100 journalists crammed into a church in Brooklyn on Thursday, speaking of her traumas from the controversial case.

"We cry every day. We can't sleep," Diallo said of her and her teenage daughter's emotional state.

She said her daughter had begged her: "Please, mom, promise me you stop crying. People call you bad names. People say bad things about you because they don't know you.

"You have to remember this guy is powerful man, everybody knows that but for you only the people you work with or are neighbors knows you, those people say good things about you because they know you."

Referring to a New York tabloid report that claimed she was a prostitute, Diallo said: "A lot of people calling me a lot of bad names. I hear a  lot of things, a lot of bad things."

"I say God why me, why me?"

She broke her public silence for the first time on Sunday in interviews with Newsweek magazine and ABC News, saying Strauss-Kahn appeared as a "crazy man" when he allegedly attacked her in his room.

Civil suit

The unusual strategy of going public has further fueled already high interest in the sensational case.

Prosecutors have expressed doubts about the credibility of the maid, suggesting they may drop charges against Strauss-Kahn, who until the alleged incident was a leading French presidential candidate.

The 62-year-old has denied seven charges of attempted rape and sexual assault arising out of the incident in his Sofitel luxury hotel suite. 

Following Diallo's five-minute address on Thursday, Kenneth Thompson, her lawyer, told reporters that his client will file a civil suit seeking damages if prosecutors do not press criminal charges against Strauss-Kahn for attempted rape.

"What she wants is justice and if the prosecutors are not going to bring this case to trial then we have to look for justice and what I look forward to is putting this case before a jury," Thompson said.

Strauss-Kahn is not due back in court until August 23 for a hearing which has been delayed several times as prosecutors grapple with the apparently growing possibility that they will not bring the high-profile case to trial.

Source: Agencies