Jefferson Siegel/New York Daily News
Deputy Consul General Devyani Khobragade (left) was detained, strip-searched and charged by the feds after housekeeper Sangeeta Richard’s allegations of mistreatment. The arrest caused an international firestorm, which Richard finds ‘overwhelming,’ her lawyer told the Daily News.
The housekeeper who sparked an international firestorm when her allegations led to the arrest of an Indian official in New York last week is under “great stress” but remains determined to see the case through, her representatives told the Daily News on Friday.
Sangeeta Richard, 42, has made headlines worldwide since Deputy Consul General Devyani Khobragade, 39, was detained, strip-searched and charged by the feds with lying on Richard’s visa application and then paying the maid $ 3.31 an hour.
The incident has outraged India, provoking diplomatic retaliation and street protests there.
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Yomara Velez (right) speaks to a group as they demonstrate across the street from the Indian Consulate in Manhattan on Friday.
“It’s been overwhelming for her,” Richard’s lawyer, Dana Sussman, told The News.
“She’s struggling to understand how this story has become what it has become.”
Sussman, a staff attorney at victims assistance agency Safe Horizon, and David Beasley, an agency spokesman, outlined Friday how Richard kept house for Khobragade and looked after the diplomat’s daughters, working seven days a week from as early as 6 a.m. to as late as 10 p.m.
At least two dozen people demonstrated Friday outside the Indian Consulate in Manhattan. Housekeeper Sengeeta Richard is ‘struggling to understand how this story has become what it has become,’ her lawyer told The News.
Safe Horizon is keeping Richard stashed away with her husband and children, whom the feds extracted from India earlier this month to protect them from Khobragade’s backers, including one who reportedly confronted Richard’s husband with a gun.
Beasley said Richard fled the posh East Side apartment she shared with the Khobgragade family because “her security and safety and status were deeply tied to her employer,” and had no voice in her own affairs.
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Demonstrators wave pro-Richard signs outside the Indian Consulate in Manhattan on Friday.
“There was very little time for her to do anything but work,” Sussman said. “At a certain point, Ms. Richard requested that she be sent home because the situation had become unbearable for her, and that request was denied. She had no other option.”
The maid found her way to Safe Horizon with help from Indian expats here, and Safe Horizon took the case to the feds, Beasley said. Richard is being kept in the U.S. by authorities under a status for victims of human trafficking, he said.
Khobragade’s lawyer, Daniel Arshack, told The News a very different story.
Furious protesters attacked a Domino’s Pizza store in Mumbai on Friday, demanding a ban on American goods.
He said the diplomat was flummoxed on June 23 when Richard went out to buy groceries and never came back.
The next time Khobragade heard from Richard, the maid was represented by a nonprofit group called Access Immigration and attempted to blackmail the diplomat for money and a new visa, Arshack said. He said Khobragade contacted the U.S. State Department immediately.
In India Friday, furious protesters attacked a Domino’s Pizza store in Mumbai, demanding a ban on American goods. No one was hurt.
There was also a demonstration in Manhattan, which featured at least two dozen protesters outside the Indian Consulate waving pro-Richard signs with slogans such as, “Hold diplomats accountable! Justice for domestic workers.”