Nafissatou Diallo, the hotel maid who accuses ex-International Monetary Fund boss Dominique Strauss-Kahn of sexual assault, has taken a step further to seek justice by taking the former IMF head to a civil court.
She slammed the civil suit on him on Monday for what she called a “violent and sadistic” attack on her, in an upscale suite that left her life “in shambles.”
Lawyers for the Guinean immigrant wrote in the lawsuit that Strauss-Kahn “intentionally, brutally and violently sexually assaulted Ms. Diallo and in the process humiliated, degraded, violated and robbed Ms. Diallo of her dignity as a woman.”
The lawyers, Kenneth Thompson and Douglas Wigdor, promised to tell a jury about other instances when Strauss-Kahn allegedly sexually attacked women in hotel rooms and apartments, coerced employees into complying with sexual demands or accosted women with inappropriate sexual remarks and tried to get them to perform sexual acts.
They said the lawsuit, seeking unspecified damages, would “redress the violent and sadistic attack by defendant Strauss-Kahn on Nafissatou Diallo when he allegedly “sexually assaulted” her on May 14 at the Sofitel hotel in midtown Manhattan.
Therefor, Nafissatou, suing Dominique Strauss Kahn, is putting her graphic description of the alleged May 14 sexual assault in Room 2806 of Manhattan’s Sofitel Hotel into a court filing more vividly, after weeks of reports that prosecutors had lost faith in their criminal case.
Her lawyer, Ken Thompson, promised on July 28 to bring legal action “soon.” But the timing is unusual because the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office hasn’t decided whether or not to proceed with its criminal case. Strauss-Kahn is due back in court on those charges on Aug. 23.
The suit filed Monday afternoon in Bronx civil court doesn’t say what kind of resolution Diallo is seeking, nor mention any dollar amounts. But it does say Diallo suffered emotional and financial hardship. It also hints that other victims or further allegations may surface, and alleges an incriminating phone call from Strauss-Kahn to his wife.
And it puts on the legal record the same details Thompson made public in his comments outside a July 1 hearing during which the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office rescinded its demand that Strauss-Kahn be held on bail, pointing to evidence that Diallo might be an unreliable witness.
More Victims? One of the most notable parts of the document posted online by The Wall Street Journal is its indication that Diallo knows of other women who Strauss-Kahn allegedly assaulted.
The minutes afterward: The district attorney’s office has said Diallo changed her story about what happened after the alleged assault, originally claiming to have reported it immediately, but then admitting to cleaning another room afterward. But the suit says she didn’t waver.
Financial Hardship: The lawsuit makes repeated references to an alleged act of forced oral sex between Strauss-Kahn and Diallo, describing in graphic detail her version of how the assault occurred. It also details her injuries, including bruising around her vagina, where she says Strauss-Kahn grabbed her, and something torn inside her shoulder. Thompson had already made these allegations informally, outside court on July 1. The suit says the alleged assault “has caused, and continues to cause, Ms. Diallo to suffer great emotional distress, humiliation, depression and physical pain and suffering.” Later, in its causes of action, Diallo says she is still paying.
Why in the Bronx? Well, Diallo lives in the Bronx. But a Reuters story last week quoted some lawyers saying she’s more likely to get a friendly jury there than in Manhtattan.
Bronx juries’ reputation for generosity toward plaintiffs is so ingrained that it has been dubbed the “Bronx effect.”
“The Bronx civil jury is the greatest tool of wealth redistribution since the Red Army,” said Ron Kuby, a well-known New York defense lawyer. “As a purported socialist, DSK should applaud the venue.”
The Bronx reputation may be overstated. A study in published in the 2002 Texas Law Review found no evidence Bronx juries deliver bigger awards than other New York counties.
Still, the notion persists that the Bronx gives otherwise powerless plaintiffs their best hope for a big payout.
Why Now? The New York Times story about the suit included a quote from Thompson on why he decided to file while the criminal case hangs in limbo.
Asked about the timing of the lawsuit, Mr. Thompson said, “Ms. Diallo has filed her lawsuit now because she wants to vindicate her rights and hold Dominique Strauss-Kahn accountable for the violent and deplorable acts that he committed against her.”
The Charges at a glance:
That DSK “intentionally, brutally and violently sexually assaulted” her.
Nafissatou Diallo, who worked as a housekeeper in the Sofitel Hotel in midtown Manhattan, sued Strauss-Kahn for battery, assault, prima facie tort, intentional infliction of emotional distress and false imprisonment, in Bronx County Supreme Court.
“Believing that he was immune from the laws of this country, defendant Strauss-Kahn intentionally, brutally and violently sexually assaulted Ms. Diallo and in the process humiliated, degraded, violated and robbed Ms. Diallo of her dignity as a woman,” the complaint states.
She seeks compensatory and punitive damages.
In her lawsuit, Diallo calls Strauss-Kahn “a man who had aspirations to become the next president of France,” and herself “an innocent hard-working immigrant woman from Africa whom he had never met before and entered his hotel room merely to do her job and clean it.”
Diallo claims Strauss-Kahn injured her shoulder and vagina in the attack before forcing her into an act of oral sex.
Diallo adds that her report to police led to unwanted worldwide media attention and accusations of being a “professional con artist” with “a plan to entrap a rich guy.”
She says Strauss-Kahn’s friends and lawyers falsely claiming that the act was consensual, and that the New York Post “even called her a prostitute,” which also is false.
Diallo says she filed the lawsuit “to teach her young daughter that no man – regardless of how much money, power and influence he has – should ever be allowed to violate her body, and to stand up for all women who have been raped, sexually assaulted and/or abused throughout the world but who are too afraid to speak out.”
Diallo claims she can present evidence of other women who were attacked by Strauss-Kahn in hotel rooms and apartments around the world.
She is represented by Kenneth Thompson and Douglas Widgor with Thompson Wigdor, of Manhattan.