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Maid files civil suit against Strauss-Kahn

The maid accusing French politician Dominique Strauss-Kahn of attempted rape filed a civil suit in New York on Monday alleging a "sadistic attack" and seeking unspecified compensation.

Her move came as prosecutors deliberated over whether to drop sex assault charges against Strauss-Kahn, or take the former head of the International Monetary Fund and powerful French figure to trial.

The 17-page court filing alleged a “violent and sadistic attack” in the Manhattan Sofitel room where Nafissatou Diallo went to clean Strauss-Kahn’s luxury room on May 14.

No specific amount of money was named in the suit, which referred only to “an award of damages in an amount to be determined at trial, plus prejudgment interest” and other unspecified compensation.

Filled with gruesome detail about how the French VIP allegedly forced his penis into the Guinean immigrant’s mouth, the suit also claimed that Strauss-Kahn had assaulted women in “hotel rooms around the world.”

The suit requested a jury trial in the Bronx, a tough neighborhood of New York where Diallo lives and where the local state court has a reputation for favoring victims in civil suits.

Responding to the suit, lawyers for Strauss-Kahn – who until the scandal had been tipped to become the next president of France – said Diallo and her lead lawyer Kenneth Thompson were simply after their client’s fortune.

“We have maintained from the beginning that the motivation of Mr Thompson and his client was to make money. The filing of this lawsuit ends any doubt on that question. The civil suit has no merit and Mr Strauss-Kahn will defend it vigorously,” attorneys William Taylor and Benjamin Brafman said.

The suit alleged “sexual assault, battery, false imprisonment and intentional infliction of emotional distress upon Ms Diallo, whom he sexually assaulted as she attempted to do her job as a housekeeper.”

Strauss-Kahn, the suit said, “intentionally, brutally and violently sexually assaulted Ms Diallo and in the process humiliated, degraded, violated and robbed Ms Diallo of her dignity as a woman.”

The ensuing emotional and mental distress was such that “she may never recover.”

A civil suit was always expected. Only the timing was in question and ordinarily a civil action is held back until the fate of the criminal case is clear.

Strauss-Kahn’s next scheduled court appearance in the criminal case is August 23. There has been speculation that prosecutors may drop their charges at that hearing.

The district attorney’s office has publicly called into question Diallo’s credibility amid revelations that she lied on her application form to gain asylum in the United States from her native Guinea.

But Thompson argues that his client risks being abandoned by prosecutors and that a jury trial in civil court is her only choice.

As part of a fight against negative reports about her credibility, Diallo took the unusual step of going public last month with media interviews and a press conference to present her side of the story. Alleged victims in sex crime cases rarely seek to reveal their identity, let alone mount media campaigns.

The burden of proof in a civil trial is significantly lower than the near watertight “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard that has to be met in criminal courts. That could mean that even if Strauss-Kahn is let off by prosecutors, he will still face a bruising jury trial in the Bronx.

Alternatively, he could, through his lawyers, seek to pay Diallo in an out-of-court settlement.

Bringing British food to Sweden – via Denmark

Dave Darlington is a man with a mission: to bring British and American food to a car park near you.

From Betty Crocker’s Carrot Cake Mix to a four-pack of Tetley’s bitter, Dave’s company, Food From Home, has been supplying the Danish public with over 700 different products from his warehouse based in Randers in Jutland since December 2000.

While Dave has been delighted with the response from the expat community, the Danes queuing at his lorries’ pick-up points came as something of a surprise. As did their favourite products.

“Salt and Vinegar Crisps,” says Dave. “The Danes buy them by the box.”

Crumpets, pork pies and sausages are also popular among the Danes. As is Danish bacon – imported from Manchester.

“You can’t get the good lean cuts here – only the streaky stuff,” he says. “Now the Danes are seeing how good their bacon really is, and they love it.”

Selling herring to the Swedes may prove to be a little more challenging, but Dave, a former DJ, is undaunted.

Encouraged by a Swedish journalist who came across the company on a trip to Denmark, Dave began hopping over the Öresund Bridge to Malmö back in March. Now his lorries, fully kitted out with shelves and fridges, visit Lund and Helsingborg once a month and he plans to work his way up the country.

Next on the list is Halmstad.

“We aim at the smaller towns and cities, where you just can’t get this kind of thing,” says Dave. “Everywhere we’ve been in Sweden so far, we’ve had a fantastic reaction.”

So whether you’re craving for a packet of Jaffa Cakes or a jar of Welch’s Grape Jelly, look for the man in the van. Don’t expect booze though – you’ll still have to go to Systembolaget for that.

Link: Food From Home