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U.S. court hearing could mark end of Strauss-Kahn civil lawsuit

MYT 2:00:01 AM

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Lawyers for Dominique Strauss-Kahn and a hotel maid who accused the former International Monetary Fund chief of sexually assaulting her are set to appear in a New York state court on Monday and may announce a settlement to her civil lawsuit against him.

Former IMF head Dominique Strauss-Kahn leaves his apartment in Paris December 10, 2012. REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes
Former IMF head Dominique Strauss-Kahn leaves his apartment in Paris December 10, 2012. REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes

The court date comes less than two weeks after a source familiar with the matter said the two sides had reached a preliminary agreement to settle the case.

The source said details of the settlement are not likely to be made public at the hearing, which is scheduled to begin at 2 p.m. EST (1900 B.S.T.) in New York State Supreme Court in the New York City borough of The Bronx.

Meanwhile, news crews gathered in front of Strauss-Kahn's Paris apartment, where he emerged Monday morning in a winter coat, jeans and a blue dress shirt and asked reporters to leave him alone.

"Are you going to keep filming me for long?" he said, appearing irritated at the presence of television cameras.

Strauss-Kahn was not required by the judge to appear personally in New York. The judge's order does direct his accuser, Nafissatou Diallo, to be present in the event a settlement is reached.

The agreement would end a legal saga that began when Diallo, 33, told police that Strauss-Kahn attacked her in his suite at the Sofitel Hotel in Manhattan on May 14, 2011. Her suit alleged that a naked Strauss-Kahn emerged from the bathroom in his $3,000 (1,866 pounds)-a-night suite and forced her to perform oral sex.

The scandal forced Strauss-Kahn to resign his post as head of one of the world's most influential international finance organizations and wrecked his hopes of running for president in his native France.

Prosecutors initially expressed confidence in the evidence, including DNA that showed a sexual encounter. But they dropped the case in August 2011 after developing concerns about Diallo's credibility, including what they said were inconsistencies in her account of what happened immediately following the incident.

Accusers in such cases often hide from the media glare, and many media outlets, including Reuters, protect their identities by not revealing their names.

But Diallo, the daughter of an imam from Guinea, broke her silence in July 2011, while the criminal investigation was still active, revealing her identity in interviews to Newsweek and ABC News.

She filed her civil lawsuit just weeks before the charges were dismissed, claiming he forced her to perform oral sex and caused her physical and emotional damage.

Strauss-Kahn, 63, filed a countersuit earlier this year against Diallo for defamation. He has said the sexual encounter was consensual but has admitted it was a "moral error."

The resolution of the civil case brings Strauss-Kahn closer to ending his legal troubles, which have persisted since his return to France after the initial incident.

Strauss-Kahn is awaiting a decision by a French court on his request to halt an inquiry to determine whether he should stand trial on pimping charges related to sex parties attended by him and by prostitutes.

He has quietly begun to resume his career in recent months, delivering speeches at private conferences and setting up a consulting firm in Paris.

(Additional reporting by Nicholas Vinocur in Paris; Editing by Dan Burns and Philip Barbara)

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