Egyptian pleads guilty to abusing NY hotel maid

NEW YORK Fri Jun 24, 2011 4:22pm EDT

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NEW YORK (Reuters) - A former Egyptian banker pleaded guilty in a New York court on Friday to a criminal charge that he sexually abused a hotel maid and now faces a multimillion dollar civil suit in connection with the case.

Mahmoud Abdel-Salam Omar, 74, a former chairman of the Bank of Alexandria and the Egyptian American Bank, was sentenced to one year probation after doing five days community service.

He was arrested in late May on charges of abusing the maid when she delivered tissues to his room at the Pierre Hotel on Manhattan's Upper East Side.

The maid, Doris Offei, also on Friday filed a civil lawsuit against Omar in Manhattan federal court asking for $5 million in damages for the assault.

When asked in court on Friday during the criminal case if he kissed Offei on the lips and neck and touched her breast without her consent, Omar, who initially had pleaded not guilty and had been out on $25,000 bail, replied: "Yes."

Omar's lawyer Liz Beal said the Egyptian businessman, who at the time of his arrest was the board chairman of El-Mex Salines Co., pleaded guilty to the criminal charge so he could return home to see his sick wife.

"This was the most expeditious way (for Omar) to return home ... plead guilty to a charge that's less than jumping over a turnstile," said Beal. "This is an overblown accusation against someone who has never been in trouble in 74 years."

The maid's attorney, John Grill, did not immediately return a call for comment.

Omar abused Offei two weeks after former International Monetary Fund chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn was charged with trying to rape a maid at the luxury Sofitel hotel in midtown Manhattan. He has denied the allegations.

In the civil lawsuit, Offei seeks $1 million for each of the three counts Omar was charged with. She also asks a judge to grant her a $2 million punitive damage award, bringing the total to $5 million.

"The defendant's conduct was outrageous," the civil lawsuit said.

Omar's lawyer Beal said the woman's "motivations are made crystal clear by less than three weeks (after the incident) filing a multimillion dollar lawsuit."

(Reporting by Basil Katz and Bernd Debusmann Jr., Editing by Michelle Nichols and Xavier Briand)

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