By Joseph Ax
NEW YORK, May 1 (Reuters) - A New York judge on Tuesday rejected a motion by former International Monetary Fund chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn to dismiss a lawsuit filed by the hotel maid who accused him of sexual assault, allowing the suit to go forward.
Bronx Supreme Court Justice Douglas McKeon rejected Strauss-Kahn's argument that he enjoyed diplomatic immunity at the time of the May 14 encounter with Nafissatou Diallo, a maid at the Sofitel Hotel in midtown Manhattan. Diallo accused him of forcing her to perform oral sex, while Strauss-Kahn has said the incident was consensual.
Calling it a "Hail Mary" attempt to secure immunity from prosecution, McKeon ruled that Strauss-Kahn's voluntary resignation from his post days after his arrest on criminal charges put an end to any immunity he might have enjoyed.
The scandal, which made headlines around the world, scuttled Strauss-Kahn's expected bid for the French presidency.
New York prosecutors dropped the criminal case against him in August, saying they were no longer convinced of Diallo's credibility after she made several changes in her account of what she did in the moments following the incident.
In his decision, McKeon agreed with Diallo's lawyers that Strauss-Kahn's failure to assert immunity at the time of his criminal indictment undermined his claim.
"If Mr. Strauss-Kahn was entitled to absolute immunity, as he contends, there was ample opportunity before now to assert it," McKeon wrote. "Mr. Strauss-Kahn cannot eschew immunity in an effort to clear his name only to embrace it now in an effort to deny Ms. Diallo the opportunity to clear hers."
One of Diallo's lawyers, Douglas Wigdor, said in a statement that they were "extremely pleased" with the ruling.
"We have said all along that Strauss Kahn's desperate plea for immunity was a tactic designed to delay these proceedings and we now look forward to holding him accountable for the brutal sexual assault that he committed," he said.
The decision was first reported by the New York Post. (Reporting by Joseph Ax; Editing by Daniel Trotta and Doina Chiacu)