Strauss-Kahn accuser adds new claim to lawsuit

NEW YORK Tue May 22, 2012 5:53pm EDT

Former IMF head Dominique Strauss-Kahn leaves arrives to vote at a polling station in the second round of the 2012 French presidential elections in Sarcelles May 6, 2012. Voting started in mainland France on Sunday in the runoff presidential elections. REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes

Former IMF head Dominique Strauss-Kahn leaves arrives to vote at a polling station in the second round of the 2012 French presidential elections in Sarcelles May 6, 2012. Voting started in mainland France on Sunday in the runoff presidential elections.

Credit: Reuters/Gonzalo Fuentes

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NEW YORK (Reuters) - Lawyers for the hotel maid who accused Dominique Strauss-Kahn of sexual assault added another claim to her civil lawsuit against him Tuesday, taking advantage of a little-used New York City law that applies to "gender-motivated violence."

In the amended lawsuit, Nafissatou Diallo claims the former International Monetary Fund chief targeted her out of misogyny under a local law known as the Victims of Gender-Motivated Violence Protection Act.

The "defendant committed a ‘crime of violence' against Plaintiff because she is a woman and, at least in part, because he has an animus towards women," according to the revised complaint, which was filed in the Bronx section of New York, where Diallo lives.

The new claim could make it easier to introduce evidence of Strauss-Kahn's sexual past, which can sometimes be ruled inadmissible and irrelevant if it does not reflect directly on the defendant's intent.

"Given that one of the elements of proving this claim is showing the intent of the assault was based on gender, it will be much easier for us to introduce other non-consensual sexual acts that show Strauss-Kahn committed them against women because of their gender," said Douglas Wigdor, one of Diallo's lawyers.

Lawyers for Strauss-Kahn did not respond to a request for comment.

Diallo accused Strauss-Kahn of attacking her in his hotel suite in May 2011 and forcing her to perform oral sex. His resulting arrest and resignation from the IMF put an end to any plans he might have had to run for president of France.

A criminal case against Strauss-Kahn was eventually dropped by prosecutors, who said Diallo had lied to them about her past and offered differing accounts of her actions following the encounter with Strauss-Kahn.

Last week, Strauss-Kahn filed a countersuit against Diallo, asserting that the incident was consensual and claiming she had defamed him.

That, legal experts have said, could open the door to additional evidence of Strauss-Kahn's sexual history, including allegations of past indiscretions, since one defense to the defamation claim would be to show that his reputation had already been damaged by other charges.

Coupled with the new gender-motivated claim, Wigdor said, he is confident that he will be free to explore Strauss-Kahn's past.

The New York law in question took effect in 2000 but does not appear to have been invoked often. It grants victims of gender-motivated crime enhanced civil claims, including the right to sue for attorneys' fees as well as compensatory and punitive damages in an effort to make it easier for impoverished victims to file lawsuits.

Strauss-Kahn currently faces an investigation for his possible connection to a prostitution that French prosecutors say sent call girls to sex parties that Strauss-Kahn attended in Washington, Paris and the northern French city of Lille. Authorities also have opened an inquiry into allegations that Strauss-Kahn participated in the group rape of a prostitute.

Strauss-Kahn's French lawyer has denied any wrongdoing and accused prosecutors of going after Strauss-Kahn for his "libertine" lifestyle.

(Reporting by Joseph Ax; Editing by Bill Trott)

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