New York Maid Files Civil Suit Against Strauss-Kahn

The maid who claims she suffered a “violent and sadistic” attack by IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn has sued him in New York’s civil courts, paving the way for a battle for millions of dollars in damages.

Nafissatou Diallo, shown in July with her lawyer, Kenneth P. Thompson. Photo: Wiki

The New York hotel maid who accuses former IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn of sexual assault has filed a civil lawsuit on Monday that alleges a “violent and sadistic” attack took place in his luxury New York hotel room in May.

According to the lawsuit, filed at a court in New York City borough of Bronx, the 62-year-old Frenchman “intentionally, brutally and violently sexually assaulted Nafissatou Diallo and in the process humiliated, degraded, violated and robbed, ” Diallo of her dignity as a woman.

The 32-year-old victim, originally hailing from Guinea in West Africa, alleges that Strauss-Kahn’s violent assault left her with an injured shoulder, bruised genitalia and a neck sprain. The alleged incident took place at New York’s super-luxury Sofitel Hotel where Diallo had been employed as a maid.

On the fateful day, she had entered one of the hotel’s plush suites where she was accosted by a nude gray-haired old man later identified as Strauss-Kahn. Even as Diallo apologized and tried to exit the room, the occupant managed to catch hold of her. She was allegedly assaulted by the man, but finally managed to escape from his clutches. Diallo states she ran out of the room and hid in the corridor.

Soon after the matter came to light following a complaint lodged by Diallo, Strauss-Kahn was arrested by New York police from the city’s La Guardia airport, moments before he was to fly out of the country. Even though Strauss-Kahn was put under house arrest, the ex-IMF chief was subsequently released on bail and his sureties returned to him after prosecutors reportedly found inconsistencies in Diallo’s story.

Her attorneys would need to prove it more likely than not that Mr Strauss-Kahn was guilty, rather than “beyond reasonable doubt” as in criminal courts. Douglas Wigdor, one of her attorneys, said he hoped the criminal case would survive. “We think Strauss-Kahn should go to jail. The evidence is overwhelming,” he said.

The lawsuit is just one of a number of unusual developments in an extraordinary case. Last month, after two months of silence, Ms. Diallo chose to go public and identify herself in interviews with Newsweek and ABC News, a decision that many viewed as a sign that her lawyer was pessimistic that the district attorney, Cyrus R. Vance Jr., would go forward with the case.

“But we don’t have any control over what the district attorney does. This complaint is to assert Miss Diallo’s rights,” said Mr. Wigdor. The maid has taken the unusual step of speaking to the media. Asked what sum she was seeking from Mr Strauss-Kahn, whose wife is a multimillionaire, Mr Wigdor said: “We are asking a jury to award Miss Diallo whatever they see as appropriate.”

Mr Strauss-Kahn denies all charges. Mr. Strauss-Kahn’s lawyers, William W. Taylor III and Benjamin Brafman, said in a statement that they had always maintained that the motivation of Mr. Thompson and his client was to make money. “The filing of this lawsuit ends any doubt on that question,” the statement said. “The civil suit has no merit and Mr. Strauss-Kahn will defend it vigorously.”

Strauss-Kahn’s arrest led to his resignation as IMF chief, and former French finance minister Christine Lagarde was chosen to succeed him. Before his arrest, Strauss-Kahn was considered a top contender to run as the Socialist Party candidate against French President Nicolas Sarkozy in 2012. [via The Telegraph (UK), NY Times and RTT News]

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