Dominique Strauss-Kahn settles Manhattan hotel maid assault claim

 

Former International Monetary Fund leader Dominique Strauss-Kahn and a hotel maid have settled her lawsuit over sexual assault allegations that sank his political career and spurred scrutiny of his dealings with women on two continents.

The housekeeper, Nafissatou Diallo, looked composed and resolute as New York state Supreme Court Justice Douglas McKeon announced the confidential deal.

Mr Strauss-Kahn stayed in Paris and refused to discuss the settlement, which came after prosecutors abandoned a related criminal case because they said Ms Diallo had credibility problems.

"I thank everyone who supported me all over the world," said Ms Diallo, who has rarely spoken publicly since the encounter between her and Strauss-Kahn in may last year.

"I thank God, and God bless you all," she added.

In a statement, Mr Strauss-Kahn's lawyers, William Taylor III and Amit Mehta, said the former diplomat was "pleased to have arrived at a resolution of this matter". They credited the judge with "patience and forbearance" that fostered the agreement.

The lawsuit stemmed from an encounter in Mr Strauss-Kahn's luxury Manhattan hotel suite.

Ms Diallo, a 33-year-old housekeeper from Guinea, told police he forced her to perform oral sex, tried to rape her and tore a ligament in her shoulder after she arrived to clean his suite.

The 63-year-old, who has since separated from his wife, has said what happened was "a moral failing" but was consensual.

The allegations led to his arrest, forced him to resign his IMF post and cut off the Socialist's potential candidacy for the French presidency.

The criminal case was dropped after prosecutors said they could not trust Ms Diallo, saying she was inconsistent about her actions right after leaving his suite, and she told a compelling but false story of having been raped previously.

She said she always told the truth about Mr Strauss-Kahn and would press her claims in the lawsuit. He called her suit defamatory and countersued for a million dollars.

The judge said he met Ms Diallo earlier this year and talked with her about the prospect of settlement talks. The negotiations continued, with a lengthy discussion involving the judge late last month, and a final deal was sealed on Monday, Justice McKeon said.

"I want to say what a privilege it has been to work with all of you and to work on this case," he told Ms Diallo and the lawyers for both sides.

The judge said Ms Diallo also settled a separate libel lawsuit against the New York Post over a series of articles that claimed she was a prostitute. The details of that settlement were not disclosed either.

Ms Diallo's lawyer Kenneth Thompson called her "a strong and courageous woman who never lost faith in our system of justice. With this resolution, she can move on with her life".

After she came forward, other sexual allegations emerged against Mr Strauss-Kahn, who had been known as a womaniser but largely viewed as debonair.

French judges are to decide by December 19 whether to annul charges linking him to a suspected prostitution ring run out of a luxury hotel in Lille. He acknowledges attending "libertine" gatherings but says he did not know about any women getting paid to participate.

Another inquiry, centred on allegations of rape in a hotel in Washington DC, was dropped after French prosecutors said the accuser, an escort, changed her account to say she was not forced to have sex.

French prosecutors have also looked into writer Tristane Banon's allegations that Mr Strauss-Kahn tried to rape her during an interview in 2003, a claim she made public after his New York arrest and he called imaginary and slanderous. Prosecutors said they believed the encounter qualified as a sexual assault, but the legal timeframe to pursue her complaint had elapsed.

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