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NY judge could decide whether DSK lawsuit proceeds

By Jennifer Peltz

Associated Press

Published: Wednesday, March 28 2012 10:15 a.m. MDT

This combo made from file photos shows former IMF leader Dominique Strauss-Kahn on June 6, 2011, left, and Nafissatou Diallo on July 28, 2011, in New York. While Strauss-Kahn faces fresh charges in his native France amid a prostitution ring probe, a judge in New York may decide whether to allow a civil case against him filed by Diallo, the hotel maid who said he sexually assaulted her. The first hearing is likely to deal with complex laws that shield diplomats from prosecution and lawsuits in their host countries. (AP Photos)

The Associated Press

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NEW YORK — While Dominique Strauss-Kahn faces fresh charges in his native France amid a prostitution investigation, a judge in New York may decide Wednesday whether to allow a civil case accusing him of sexually assaulting a hotel maid to go forward.

The 62-year-old former chief of the International Monetary Fund was charged last year with attempted rape and other crimes after the May 14 encounter with hotel maid Nafissatou Diallo, but the criminal case was dropped after prosecutors lost faith in her credibility.

Still, she vowed to have her day in court, and sued Strauss-Kahn. She maintains he attacked her when she came to clean his luxury suite at the Sofitel Hotel.

The first hearing in the civil case was scheduled for the afternoon in the Bronx. Neither the 33-year-old woman nor Strauss-Kahn is expected to attend.

The proceeding is likely to deal with complex laws that shield diplomats from prosecution and lawsuits in their host countries. Strauss-Kahn's lawyers have argued the onetime French presidential candidate is immune under a 1947 U.N. agreement that afforded the privilege to heads of "specialized agencies," including the International Monetary Fund. Strauss-Kahn was carrying a travel document at the time that said he was entitled to those immunities, his lawyers say.

Diallo's attorneys say the argument is overreaching and misses the mark.

When police pulled him from an Air France flight and arrested him, Strauss-Kahn also declared he had diplomatic immunity, but the IMF said he didn't because he was in New York on personal business — visiting his daughter. He didn't push the issue amid the criminal case that eventually dissolved in August.

Since then, Strauss-Kahn has seen his sexual behavior scrutinized internationally. On Monday, he was handed preliminary charges in France alleging he was involved in a hotel prostitution ring including prominent city figures and police in Lille.

Investigating judges questioned him for about eight hours and gave him preliminary charges of "aggravated procurement in an organized gang." Under French law, preliminary charges mean authorities have reason to believe a crime was committed but allow more time for investigation.

A judge has barred him from speaking with media until further investigation.

His French lawyer said the married, Strauss-Kahn engaged in "libertine" acts but did nothing legally wrong, and is being unfairly targeted for his extramarital sex life. He's free on bail.

After the New York case, a French writer also came forward to say Strauss-Kahn tried to rape her during a 2003 interview, but Paris prosecutors said the case was too old to try.

The Associated Press generally doesn't name people who report being sexually assaulted unless they come forward publicly, as Diallo has done.

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