By Joseph Ax
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Former IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn has filed a $1 million countersuit against the hotel maid who accused him of sexual assault, costing him his job and any chance of being elected president of France.
New York police arrested Strauss-Kahn a year ago when hotel maid Nafissatou Diallo accused him of forcible oral sex and trying to rape her in his luxury suite at the Sofitel Hotel in Manhattan.
Strauss-Kahn denied the allegations, saying the sexual encounter with Diallo was consensual. Prosecutors later dropped the charges after losing confidence in Diallo's credibility.
Diallo nonetheless sued Strauss-Kahn for unspecified damages in Supreme Court in the New York City borough of the Bronx, where she lived at the time.
The countersuit was filed on Monday on the anniversary of the incident and a day before Francois Hollande - the Socialist who took the nomination that Strauss-Kahn was once favored to win - was sworn in as president of France.
Strauss-Kahn denies all wrongdoing in the countersuit and accuses Diallo of "knowingly and intentionally making a false report to law enforcement authorities."
"Soon after she entered the room, Ms. Diallo and Mr. Strauss-Kahn engaged in mutually consensual acts," the claim states. "No violence, force or coercion attended their sexual encounter, and Ms. Diallo suffered no injuries whatsoever."
The former international financier seeks damages for his arrest, which included jail time at New York's Rikers Island and house arrest in an upscale Manhattan neighborhood; for losing his job as managing director of the International Monetary Fund; and for harm to his reputation.
The countersuit seeks at least $1 million in damages plus an undetermined amount of punitive damages. Diallo, a single mother who immigrated from Guinea, has not worked since the incident due to a shoulder injury she claims she sustained during the encounter with Strauss-Kahn, said one of her lawyers, Douglas Wigdor.
"The counterclaims have no basis in fact and were done solely for public relations," he said.
Strauss-Kahn's court filing comes two weeks after Bronx Supreme Court Justice Douglas McKeon rejected his motion to throw out Diallo's civil lawsuit on the grounds he had diplomatic immunity at the time of the incident.
The countersuit cites claims by prosecutors that Diallo proved to be an unreliable witness, after they concluded she had lied about her past and offered varying accounts of her behavior in the moments that followed the incident.
"It should come as no surprise that Mr. Strauss-Kahn is asserting claims against Ms. Diallo for her false allegations against him," one of Strauss-Kahn's lawyers, William Taylor, said in a statement. "She is directly responsible for his being arrested, imprisoned, and subjected to extraordinary pain, anguish and expense."
Strauss-Kahn's legal troubles have persisted since his return to France after the dismissal of the criminal case. In March, French authorities announced he was under formal investigation in connection with a prostitution ring in the northern city of Lille.
His French lawyers have accused authorities of harassing Strauss-Kahn for his "libertine ways" and denied he committed any criminal acts.