NEW YORK - Prosecutors are exploring whether a lawyer for the hotel maid who accused Dominique Strauss-Kahn of sexual assault discussed the possibility of a financial settlement and suggested she could back away from the criminal case, people familiar with the matter said yesterday. The woman’s lawyer sternly denied it.
The Manhattan District Attorney’s Office is looking into whether housekeeper Nafitassou Diallo’s lawyer and Strauss-Kahn’s attorneys talked about a potential deal after prosecutors began developing questions about her credibility, said the people, who spoke on condition of anonymity. It was first reported by The Wall Street Journal.
“The allegation against me is absolutely false,’’ Diallo’s lawyer, Kenneth Thompson, said in an e-mail yesterday. The DA’s office and Strauss-Kahn lawyer declined to comment.
The criminal case against the former International Monetary Fund leader is on uncertain ground after prosecutors said Diallo had lied to them about her background and was inconsistent about what she did immediately after the alleged May 14 attack. Strauss-Kahn denies the allegations, and his lawyers are urging prosecutors to drop the case.
Diallo and Thompson have publicly pressed prosecutors to keep pursuing the case, saying her account of Strauss-Kahn forcing her to perform oral sex in his Sofitel hotel suite is true. Diallo also sued Strauss-Kahn earlier this month, seeking unspecified damages. His lawyers have said the suit is meritless and shows Diallo is out to make money.
Prosecutors want to know whether Thompson broached a possible settlement with Strauss-Kahn’s attorneys in June, before the suit was filed and during a more than two-week period when Diallo wasn’t talking to prosecutors.