The woman who brought charges against the former IMF chief will have new advantages in civil court
The New York Times reported Monday afternoon that Nafissatou Diallo, the woman who earlier this year accused former IMF Chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn of rape, has just filed a civil lawsuit seeking money damages against him. The lawsuit was filed in the Bronx, where Diallo lives, and it contends that Strauss-Kahn should be held financially accountable for a sexual attack in a Manhattan hotel room that "humiliated, degraded, violated and robbed" her of "her dignity as a woman."
With the filing, we have just entered a new phase in the Strauss-Kahn endgame. The first sign of the strategy were the "exclusive" interviews the alleged victim gave to media organizations a few weeks ago. And now this. It is clear that Diallo's attorneys are unwilling to wait any longer for prosecutors to spin the public story in her favor or to otherwise put any pressure on Strauss-Kahn, who is now a defendant two times over. Time is not on her side. Here are five quick points worth noting as you absorb this news.
1. The most important thing to always remember about a civil case (see, Simpson, O.J.) is that the burden of proof is much lower than it is in a criminal case. Prosecutors have to prove that Strauss-Kahn raped Diallo "beyond a reasonable doubt." Diallo's lawyers only have to prove that Strauss-Kahn raped their client "by a preponderance of the evidence." On a scale of 1-100, that represents the difference between a 95-5 certainty and a 51-49 certainty. And there are other, procedural advantages that Diallo the civil plaintiff will have that Diallo the criminal witness-victim will not.