NYC suit against Strauss-Kahn could end in deal

Published on NewsOK Modified: December 9, 2012 at 8:29 pm •  Published: December 9, 2012
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Manhattan prosecutors dropped their case against Strauss-Kahn in August 2011, saying they had developed doubts about Diallo's trustworthiness. They said she had wavered in recounting her movements after the alleged attack and lied to them about her past, including a convincing but fictitious story of being gang-raped before.

She said she gave an honest account of her encounter with Strauss-Kahn, and her attorneys said her civil case would prove her right.

"It didn't happen with the DA, but we intend to vindicate Ms. Diallo's rights," one of her lawyers, Kenneth P. Thompson, said in March.

Strauss-Kahn's side was no less blunt.

"We have maintained from the beginning that the motivation of Mr. Thompson and his client was to make money," William W. Taylor III and other Strauss-Kahn attorneys said when Diallo sued in August 2011. Strauss-Kahn later filed a $1 million defamation suit against her.

Neither case has come close to trial.

Statistically, a settlement is no surprise. In a federal Bureau of Justice Statistics survey of nearly 440,000 state-court civil cases that were closed in 2005, only about 3 percent went to trial. The rest were settled, dropped or tossed out.

And in Diallo's case, a trial could have red flags for both sides.

For Strauss-Kahn, it could mean a public dissection of his sexual history, since Diallo's suit argued that their encounter reflected a pattern of misogynistic behavior, noted Paul F. Callan, a New York-based lawyer who represented Nicole Brown Simpson's relatives in their wrongful-death suit against O.J. Simpson.

And Diallo would likely again have faced questions about her truthfulness. While the criminal case legally has no bearing on the lawsuit, Strauss-Kahn's lawyers would be able to attack her credibility by drawing on the inconsistencies prosecutors raised, legal observers say.

"When cases have serious problems on both sides, that's when they settle," Callan said.

Women's-rights advocates rallied to express support for Diallo after the criminal charges were dropped last year.

Advocates deplore seeing women painted as gold-diggers for filing sexual assault suits, and settlements shouldn't reinforce that image, said Sonia Ossorio, the president of the National Organization for Women's New York City chapter.

"It's hard to come to that conclusion when you see what the ramifications of coming forward are to you in your community, and the detrimental effects it has on your professional life" in some cases, she said.

The Associated Press generally does not name people who report being sexually assaulted unless they come forward publicly, which Diallo did.

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Follow Jennifer Peltz at http://twitter.com/jennpeltz



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