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Strauss-Kahn Lawyers: Law in NYC Maid's Suit Vague

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Dominique Strauss-Kahn's lawyers are taking aim at a gender-motivated-violence law that a New York City hotel maid is invoking in her lawsuit against him.

The 12-year-old city law is "impermissibly vague," and the housekeeper is off-base in trying to apply it to Strauss-Kahn, William W. Taylor III and other attorneys for the former International Monetary Fund chief wrote in papers filed Wednesday.

The filing marks Strauss-Kahn's latest effort to fight the legal fallout from his May 2011 encounter with Nafissatou Diallo. She calls it a sexual attack. He terms it consensual.

Prosecutors dropped related criminal charges, but Diallo is pursuing the allegations in civil court.

One of her lawyers, Douglas H. Wigdor, said he was confident the challenge to the gender-based violence law would prove futile.

"Eventually, Ms. Diallo will get her date in court," he said Thursday.

The suit also makes assault and other claims that are more commonly argued. They aren't addressed in Strauss-Kahn's latest filing, which asks a judge only to toss out the gender-motivated violence claim.

It's unclear how often such claims have been made under the 2000 city law. No court has issued a decision interpreting it, according to Strauss-Kahn's lawyers.

The law lets people sue if they have been injured by a violent crime "due, at least in part, to an animus based on the victim's gender."

It isn't clear what that means, Strauss-Kahn's lawyers say.

"Whether conduct is motivated by `animus' is, by its very nature, a subjective and imprecise inquiry," they wrote.

Diallo's lawyers have said it should be clear that Strauss-Kahn, 63, has an animus toward women. They have pointed to other allegations against him, including preliminary charges of aggravated pimping stemming from a purported hotel prostitution ring in Lille, France. He has acknowledged being involved in "libertine" activity but has said he was unaware of anyone being paid for sex.

Diallo's references to other claims about Strauss-Kahn's behavior are ill-supported and irrelevant, his lawyers say.

It's not clear when a judge may rule on the bid to toss out the gender-based violence claim.

Strauss-Kahn also has argued that he has diplomatic immunity from the suit. A judge turned down that argument in May; Strauss-Kahn's lawyers have indicated he may appeal.

Strauss-Kahn also is suing the 33-year-old Diallo, making defamation and other claims.

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