The lawyer for the maid accusing Dominique Strauss-Kahn of sexual assault, said today that his client did not live in housing for people with HIV or AIDS, as reported by the New York Post under its banner headline "Hotel Maid in HIV Shock" today. "Absolutely not. she lived in a sublet apartment in the Bronx. That's outrageous," Jeffrey Shapiro said on the Today Show.
Shapiro isn't the only one who bristled at the news. The story is being received as a journalistic cheap shot pretty much across the board, with criticism that it violates the privacy of the accuser, and may put her in danger, not to mention endangering the district attorney's case against Strauss-Kahn. Here's an outraged Tom McGeveran, of Capital New York:
The Post touts its cooperation with authorities in not releasing the name of the accuser, and goes to some lengths in its main article on the D.S.K. case today to detail efforts being made by the New York Police Department to "protect" her from offers from influential friends of D.S.K. to drop the case in exchange for favors. But it reveals that she was living in an apartment organized for her by the charity Harlem United, which places people with H.I.V. and AIDS in rent-assisted housing. The sum of the importance of this fact, which does not establish that the alleged victim is H.I.V.-positive, is the suggestion that the accused sex criminal "may have more to worry about than a possible prison sentence" because, "[according] to the federal Centers for Disease Control: 'It is possible for either partner to become infected with HIV through performing or receiving oral sex.'" This, in the mind of the Post, qualifies as a "shock."
At Jezebel, Anna North got to the point a little more succinctly.
It's not impossible that the maid could have infected DSK, but it is unlikely — the bigger issue here is that the Post has essentially outed her as HIV-positive and pretty much told readers where she lives. Since Slate France has also published her name, DSK's accuser has now had her privacy seriously compromised.
Nobody's happy about the report, it seems, but as North points out, the real problem is that this alleged victim has now been identified, and the district attorney's office hasn't said (that we can see) how they intend to keep her safe. We've sent an e-mail and put in a call to that office, so when they get back to us, we'll let you know what they say.
Meanwhile, here's Shapiro on the Today show: