According to CNN, the former director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Dr. Thomas Frieden, was arrested on Friday and charged with forcible touching for grabbing a woman without her consent.
A spokesperson for the New York Police Department told reporters that Frieden, who served as the director of the CDC from 2009 to January 2017, turned himself in Friday morning. The alleged incident, for which he is being charged, took place in his Brooklyn home in October 2017, but was just recently reported to the police in July. After conducting an interview with the victim, the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office found her to be credible.
Frieden, who now serves as the president and CEO of Resolve to Save Lives, is scheduled to appear in Brooklyn Criminal Court. According to local law enforcement, Frieden is facing one count of forcible touching, one count of harassment in the second degree, and one count of sex abuse in the third degree.
One of Frieden’s spokespeople released a statement to CNN, saying, “This allegation does not reflect Dr. Frieden’s public or private behavior or his values over a lifetime of service to improve health around the world.”
Jose Castro, the CEO of Vital Strategies, the parent nonprofit of Resolve to Save Lives, jumped to Frieden’s defense on Friday, noting that he first learned of the allegations against Frieden in April. “I have known and worked closely with Dr. Frieden for nearly 30 years,” Castro said, “and have seen first-hand that he has the highest ethical standards both personally and professionally. In all of my experiences with him, there have never been any concerns or reports of inappropriate conduct.”
“Vital Strategies is committed to a workplace that is free of sexual harassment,” Castro continued. “As such, even though she is not an employee, earlier this month we conducted a thorough investigation by an external expert, which included an in-depth interview with every staff member on the Resolve to Save Lives team to determine whether there are any concerns about inappropriate behavior.”
Complaint states that Frieden “did touch defendant’s hand to the buttocks of informant and did squeeze, without informant’s consent” pic.twitter.com/i5mONEw9Ns— Azeen Ghorayshi (@azeen) August 24, 2018
“This assessment determined there have been no incidents of workplace harassment,” he concluded. “Vital Strategies greatly values the work Dr. Frieden does to advance public health and he has my full confidence.”
Frieden’s former employer, however, has declined to comment. Bert Kelly, a CDC spokesperson, only responded with a brief email, saying, “CDC has no information on this matter. We refer you to the appropriate law enforcement authorities.”