And in Diallo's case, a trial could have red flags for both sides.
For Strauss-Kahn, it could mean a public dissection of his sexual history, since Diallo's suit argued that their encounter reflected a pattern of misogynistic behavior, noted Paul F. Callan, a New York-based lawyer who represented Nicole Brown Simpson's relatives in their wrongful-death suit against O.J. Simpson.
And Diallo would likely again have faced questions about her truthfulness. While the criminal case legally has no bearing on the lawsuit, Strauss-Kahn's lawyers would be able to attack her credibility by drawing on the inconsistencies prosecutors raised, legal observers say.
"When cases have serious problems on both sides, that's when they settle," Callan said.
Women's-rights advocates rallied to express support for Diallo after the criminal charges were dropped last year.
Advocates deplore seeing women painted as gold-diggers for filing sexual assault suits, and settlements shouldn't reinforce that image, said Sonia Ossorio, the president of the National Organization for Women's New York City chapter.
"It's hard to come to that conclusion when you see what the ramifications of coming forward are to you in your community, and the detrimental effects it has on your professional life" in some cases, she said.
The Associated Press generally does not name people who report being sexually assaulted unless they come forward publicly, which Diallo did.
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