US & Canada

Civil case against Dominique Strauss-Kahn to go ahead

Dominique Strauss-Kahn outside a polling station in Sarcelles, France 22 April 2012
Image caption Criminal charges against Dominique Strauss-Kahn were dropped in August

A hotel maid's civil lawsuit alleging sexual assault by Dominique Strauss-Kahn can proceed to trial, a New York judge has said.

The judge rejected the former International Monetary Fund (IMF) head's bid to have the case dismissed on the grounds of diplomatic immunity.

The woman, Nafissatou Diallo, says Mr Strauss-Kahn tried to rape her in his hotel suite in May 2011. He denies it.

Prosecutors dropped criminal charges in the case last summer.

'Shaped by agenda'

Bronx Supreme Court Justice Douglas McKeon said diplomatic immunity did not apply to Mr Strauss-Kahn at the time of the 14 May encounter at a Sofitel Hotel in New York City.

"Confronted with well settled law that his voluntary resignation from the IMF terminated any immunity which he enjoyed... Mr Strauss-Kahn, threw (legally speaking, that is) his own version of a 'Hail Mary pass'," Judge McKeon wrote .

Image caption Nafissatou Diallo says Dominique Strauss-Kahn forced her to perform oral sex

Ms Diallo, 33, has said Mr Strauss-Kahn, 63, forced her to perform oral sex; he says the encounter was consensual.

DNA evidence suggests that a sexual encounter did take place between the two.

Ms Diallo's defence lawyers praised the judge's ruling.

"Strauss-Kahn's desperate plea for immunity was a tactic designed to delay these proceedings and we now look forward to holding him accountable for the brutal sexual assault that he committed," they said in a statement on Tuesday.

Mr Strauss-Kahn's lawyers said: "He is determined to fight the claims brought against him, and we are confident that he will prevail."

Criminal charges against the French economist were dropped in August, after prosecutors said Ms Diallo had changed her account of her actions immediately after the incident.

At the time of the incident, Mr Strauss-Kahn had been viewed as a potential candidate for the French presidency.

In the wake of the incident another woman, a French writer, claimed Mr Strauss-Kahn had attempted to rape her during an interview in 2003. Prosecutors in France decided the claims were too old to bring to trial.

Separately, French authorities alleged that Mr Strauss-Kahn had been involved with a hotel prostitution ring that also implicated city officials and police in the town of Lille.

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