08.19.11 5:04 AM ET
Did Maid Ask DSK for Money?
As prosecutors near a decision on whether to drop sexual-assault charges against Dominique Strauss-Kahn, they've requested records from his accuser about whether she sought a cash settlement from the powerful French politician as the case began unraveling, The Daily Beast has learned.
Sources close to the case said Thursday that prosecutors specifically want to know whether lawyers for luxury-hotel maid Nafissatou Diallo made any offers to stop cooperating with the criminal investigation or to drop the charges during confidential settlement talks back in June.
The request in recent days to Diallo's lawyer Kenneth Thompson is the latest sign of how much relations between the Manhattan district attorney's office and Diallo have deteriorated since she first accused Strauss-Kahn of assaulting her after she entered his luxury suite in the Sofitel hotel in New York City to clean it on May 14.
The sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the two sides had confidential settlement talks in mid- to late June, after Thompson first disclosed problems with his client's credibility to prosecutors, but before prosecutors disclosed those problems to a court on July 1.
The prosecutors, who have accused Diallo of making up a story about a prior rape in Guinea, lying on her asylum application, and filing a false tax return, learned of the settlement discussions only recently and requested information from Thompson.
The prosecutors plan to inform the court by next Tuesday whether they want to proceed to trial or drop the charges against Strauss-Kahn because of concerns about Diallo's credibility.
Law-enforcement sources have told The Daily Beast and Newsweek that they still believe an unwanted sexual encounter may have occurred in the hotel suite, but that they were increasingly uncertain they could prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt.
If they decide they can't, they will dismiss the charges in what would be a stunning turnabout in a case that humiliated Strauss-Kahn, forcing him to step down as head of the International Monetary Fund and greatly tarnishing his prospects to run for president of France.
The dismissal of the criminal case in Manhattan, while providing some vindication, would not end the travails of Strauss-Kahn, however. Anticipating that prosecutors might drop the criminal charges, Thompson recently filed a lawsuit in the Bronx accusing Strauss-Kahn of perpetrating a “violent and sadistic” attack on Diallo that left her life a “shambles.”
If the criminal charges are dropped, the civil proceedings would become the primary venue for Diallo to air her allegations, though the settlement talks and other evidence would likely give Strauss-Kahn's lawyers ammunition to suggest that financial gain may have motivated the immigrant maid to make the accusations.
In an interview with Newsweek last month, Diallo said that money was not her primary focus, and that what she wanted was to seek justice against Strauss-Kahn.
Thompson and Strauss-Kahn's lawyer, William Taylor, did not return calls seeking comment Thursday night.