Strauss-Kahn-maid case may be settled


At the receiving end: Former IMF head Dominique Strauss-Kahn in Paris. Pic:Reuters

Paris: Lawyers for Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the ex-IMF chief and onetime French presidential hopeful, are headed to court hoping to close the books on the New York sex scandal that destroyed his stellar career.

Nafissatou Diallo, a hotel maid who accuses the French economist of sexually assaulting her when she went to clean his luxury suite in May 2011, is also scheduled to appear with her lawyers at the hearing at the Bronx Supreme Court.

At issue is a settlement in the civil suit brought by Diallo—which would allow Strauss-Kahn to avoid the embarrassment of a civil trial and the potential for a jury to order a huge payout.

Justice Douglas McKeon said the hearing would likely be quick.  "The court session should not take more than 30 minutes," he said.

Strauss-Kahn, himself, was not expected to attend.

His lawyers have confirmed only that negotiations for a settlement were underway ahead of hearing and that they were "hoping" for a deal within days.  Specific terms of any possible settlement have been kept confidential, and Strauss-Kahn's lawyers dismissed as "dramatically inaccurate" a report in France's Le Monde newspaper that Diallo would be paid $6 million. But former prosecutor Matthew Galluzzo said the figure is probably in the ballpark.

Pre-trial settlements
It's probably going to be "between three and ten million, most probably somewhere around five," he said. Pre-trial settlements are extremely common in civil suits in the US, as a way to avoid the costly and unpredictable process of a trial before a jury.

A settlement is not an admission of guilt. But it does allow the accused to avoid giving their version of events.

If a deal is agreed in court, it will almost certainly make Diallo far richer than when she emigrated to the United States from Guinea and became a maid at the Manhattan Sofitel.

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