New York: Former International Monetary Fund chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn sought to close a key chapter in the sex scandals that destroyed his career by sealing a financial agreement with a maid who accused him of sexual assault.
Lawyers for the onetime French presidential hopeful and Nafissatou Diallo, a hotel maid who says a naked Strauss Kahn pushed her onto a bed in a luxury New York hotel, are to appear before the Bronx Supreme Court.
Diallo brought a civil suit after a criminal case collapsed. An accord would allow Strauss-Kahn to avoid the embarrassment of a civil trial before a jury and a potentially substantial payout if he loses.
Police put up security barriers around the court entrance in anticipation of a new media scrum around Diallo, a Guinean migrant who has been in hiding since the encounter with Strauss Kahn in May 2011.
Justice Douglas McKeon, who is to hear the case, said, "The court session should not take more than 30 minutes." Diallo may speak to reporters after but Strauss Kahan has not returned to the United States.
His lawyers have confirmed only that negotiations for a settlement were underway and that they were "hoping" for a deal. The lawyers have 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 and predicted a sum of around five million dollars and up to 10 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. But it does allow the accused to avoid giving their version of events.
If confirmed, a deal would allow Strauss-Kahn, 63, to put behind him at least one part of the sordid affair that began with his arrest on a plane at John F. Kennedy Airport hours after leaving the luxury Sofitel hotel on May 14, 2011.
Manhattan prosecutors brought criminal charges against Strauss-Kahn. Instead of jetting to Europe for a planned meeting with Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel, he found himself held at New York's tough Rikers Island jail and soon had to resign as managing director of the IMF.
Prosecutors delivered a new shock in late August 2011 by dropping criminal charges and declaring that Diallo was not a credible witness. She maintained a civil suit, however. Strauss-Kahn, who had been on bail under surveillance in New York, quickly returned to France but has faced devastating new blows to his reputation.
French prosecutors filed new separate charges as the lid came off the high-flier's covert but rampant appetite for extra-marital sex.
Author Tristane Banon accused him of trying to rape her in 2003. Investigators concluded that while there was evidence of a sexual assault, the alleged attack had occurred too long ago to be prosecuted.
Another probe found that Strauss-Kahn participated 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, Strauss-Kahn 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, art heiress Anne Sinclair.
However, he has recently made a quiet comeback as a business consultant and conference speaker.
Story first published:
December 10, 2012 23:33 IST