Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the former International Monetary Fund chief, lost his bid for dismissal of a lawsuit filed by the hotel maid who accused him of trying to rape her.
Justice Douglas McKeon of New York State Supreme Court in the Bronx issued the ruling today. He rejected Strauss-Kahn’s claim of diplomatic immunity, calling it “his own version of a ‘Hail Mary’ pass.”
The judge pointed to Strauss-Kahn’s decision not to invoke diplomatic immunity when he was charged criminally with assaulting the maid, Nafissatou Diallo.
“Mr. Strauss-Kahn cannot eschew immunity in an effort to clear his name only to embrace it now in an effort to deny Ms. Diallo the opportunity to clear hers,” McKeon wrote.
Strauss-Kahn, 63, was pulled off an Air France flight at John F. Kennedy International Airport last May 14, arrested and charged with trying to rape Diallo, a housekeeper at the Sofitel in midtown Manhattan. He resigned as head of the IMF four days later.
Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. dropped the criminal charges against Strauss-Kahn after concluding that Diallo had lied about events surrounding the alleged attack. The criminal case was dismissed on Aug. 23.
Diallo sued Strauss-Kahn the same month, seeking damages for what her lawyer called “violent and deplorable acts.” Unlike a criminal trial, a civil suit doesn’t require proof beyond a reasonable doubt.
Attorneys for Strauss-Kahn argued that he was entitled to diplomatic immunity under the Convention on the Privileges and Immunities of the Specialized Agencies, a November 1947 treaty that established immunity for heads of agencies such as the IMF.
While the U.S. isn’t a party to the treaty, such immunity has become “customary international law” because of acceptance from countries that are members of the United Nations, attorneys for Strauss-Kahn argued in court filings.
Strauss-Kahn’s attorneys, William Taylor III and Amit Mehta, are reviewing the court order and considering their legal options, said Marina Ein, an outside spokeswoman for their firm, Washington-based Zuckerman Spaeder LLP, in an e-mail.
“We are disappointed that the court did not grant our motion to dismiss the civil suit against Mr. Strauss-Kahn,” Taylor and Mehta said in a statement. “He is determined to fight the claims brought against him, and we are confident that he will prevail.”
Diallo’s attorneys argued that Strauss-Kahn failed to assert the defense when he was taken into custody and that both the IMF and the U.S. State Department said in the days after his arrest that he wasn’t entitled to diplomatic immunity.
“We are extremely pleased with Judge McKeon’s well-reasoned and articulate decision recognizing that Strauss-Kahn is not entitled to immunity,” Douglas Wigdor, one of Diallo’s lawyers, said in an e-mail. “We have said all along that 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.”
The case is Diallo v. Strauss-Kahn, 11-307065, New York State Supreme Court (Bronx County).