New York: Former IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn on Monday agreed an undisclosed financial settlement with the New York hotel maid who had accused the leading French politician of sexual assault.
In a brief hearing before a packed Bronx court, Judge Douglas McKeon said the terms of the agreement between the 63-year-old economist and Guinean maid Nafissatou Diallo would remain “confidential”.
“About 10 minutes ago we reached a settlement in this case which was put on record,” he said, adding he had met lawyers for the parties on November 28 and that: “Earlier today we came together to sign to sign the terms on the table.”
Outside the court, Diallo said: “I thank everyone who supports me. I thank God, and God bless you all.”
Her lawyer Kenneth Thompson called her a “courageous woman who never lost faith in our system of justice. With this resolution she can now move on with her life.”
The judge said Diallo had also settled a separate defamation suit against the tabloid New York Post, which falsely alleged she was a prostitute.
The deal brings to a close one of a series of embarrassing probes into Strauss-Kahn’s sexual conduct since Diallo first accused him of launching a naked assault on her in his hotel suite in May 2011.
Before her allegation, Strauss-Kahn had been a leading contender for the French presidency, and the case caused shockwaves on both sides of the Atlantic, leaving his once-glittering political career in tatters.
Diallo, a 33-year-old Muslim immigrant, attended the hearing dressed in a headscarf, green blouse and black trousers, but did not speak.
Strauss-Kahn remained in France where he is trying to relaunch himself as an economic consultant and public speaker.
Diallo told police she entered Strauss-Kahn’s luxury suite at the New York Sofitel on May 14, 2011 to clean it. She alleged that he came out of the bathroom naked and subjected her to a humiliating sexual assault.
Instead of jetting to Europe for a planned meeting with Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel, Strauss-Kahn found himself held at New York’s tough Rikers Island jail and soon had to resign as managing director of the IMF.
In late August 2011, prosecutors dropped criminal charges and declared that Diallo was not a credible witness. Strauss-Kahn, who had been on bail, quickly returned to France but promptly faced new blows to his reputation.
Prior to the hearing, Strauss-Kahn’s lawyers had 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 was plausible and predicted a sum of around $5 million.
Pre-trial settlements are common in US civil suits as a way to avoid a costly jury trial. A settlement is not an admission of guilt and it allows the accused to avoid having to give their version of events.
French prosecutors launched several separate investigations as the lid came off the high-flier’s covert but rampant appetite for extra-marital sex.
Young French author Tristane Banon accused him of trying to rape her in 2003, but investigators concluded that, while there was evidence of a sexual assault, the alleged attack had occurred too long ago to be prosecuted.
Another probe heard a claim that Strauss-Kahn had taken part in the gang rape of a Belgian prostitute. But it was eventually dropped when she recanted and said she had consented to any sex acts.
On December 19, he will learn whether he faces further investigation into pimping charges arising from allegations that he and associates arranged sex parties with prostitutes for wealthy men.
The scandals buried Strauss-Kahn’s hopes of claiming what many had thought would be a strong Socialist candidacy for the French presidency.
His downfall also led to separation with his wife, leading French journalist and wealthy heiress Anne Sinclair.