NEW YORK, N.Y. – Former International Monetary Fund leader Dominique Strauss-Kahn and a hotel maid settled her lawsuit Monday over sexual assault allegations that sank his political career and spurred scrutiny of his dealings with women on two continents.
State Supreme Court Justice Douglas McKeon announced that after lengthy negotiations in the suit brought by Nafissatou Diallo, the parties “came together and put terms of a settlement on the record.” The amount of the settlement was kept confidential.
Strauss-Kahn did not attend the hearing on Monday at a Bronx courthouse. Diallo, her hair covered by a leopard-print scarf, looked composed and resolute as the deal was announced.
“I thank everybody all over the world and everybody at the court, and God bless you all,” Diallo said afterward.
Her attorney, Kenneth Thompson, called her “a strong and courageous woman who never lost faith in the justice system. With this resolution, she can move on with her life.”
In a statement, attorneys William Taylor III and Amit Mehta, thanked the judge.
“On behalf of Mr. Strauss-Kahn, we are pleased to have arrived at a resolution of this matter,” they said. “We are grateful to Judge McKeon whose patience and forbearance allowed this agreement to be formulated.”
The lawsuit stemmed from a May 2011 hotel suite encounter that also led to criminal charges, forced Strauss-Kahn’s resignation from the IMF and cut off his potential candidacy for the French presidency.
Diallo, a 33-year-old housekeeper from Guinea, told police Strauss-Kahn forced her to perform oral sex and tried to rape her after she arrived to clean his suite. The 63-year-old Strauss-Kahn, who has since separated from his wife, has said what happened was “a moral failing,” but was consensual.
The criminal case was dropped after prosecutors said Diallo had credibility problems.
She said she always told the truth about what happened between the two and would press her claims in the lawsuit. Strauss-Kahn called the suit defamatory and countersued for $1 million.
On Monday, the judge said he first met with Diallo earlier this year.
“At that time we discussed her willingness to allow settlement negotiations to take place in this case,” he said.
“I’ve developed a great affection for all of you,” the judge continued, referring to the parties, “and have gotten to know Ms. Diallo through the time that I spent with her. I want to say what a privilege it has been to work with all of you and to work on this case.”
After Diallo came forward, other sexual allegations emerged against Strauss-Kahn, who had been known as a womanizer but largely viewed as debonair.
French judges are to decide by Dec. 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 didn’t know about any women getting paid to participate.
Another inquiry, centred on allegations of rape in a hotel in Washington, D.C., was dropped after French prosecutors said the accuser, an escort, changed her account to say she wasn’t forced to have sex.
And French prosecutors also have looked into writer Tristane Banon’s allegations that Strauss-Kahn tried to rape her during an interview in 2003, a claim she made public after his New York arrest and he called 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.
The Associated Press does not name people who report being sexually assaulted unless they come forward publicly, as Diallo and Banon have done.
Several hours before the court date in New York, Strauss-Kahn was seen in Paris leaving his new residence in the Left Bank neighbourhood of Montparnasse. Dressed in jeans, a white shirt and open black jacket and clutching a stack of dossiers, he ducked into a black Audi waiting for him. Asked by AP Television News if he was relieved the New York end of his legal problems would soon be over, he refused to respond.
Associated Press Writer Tom Hays in New York contributed to this report.