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Former CDC director Dr. Tom Frieden arrested on sexual misconduct allegations

Frieden, who stepped down as head of the federal agency when Trump took office, is accused of forcibly touching at least one woman.
Image: Former Centers For Disease Control And Prevention Chief Tom Frieden Arrested In New York On Sex Abuse Charges
Tom Frieden, former Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, exits Brooklyn Criminal Court following his arrest on sex abuse charges, Aug. 24, 2018 in New York City.Drew Angerer / Getty Images

Dr. Tom Frieden, a former director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, was arrested for inappropriately touching a woman, according to the New York City Police Department.

The alleged incident happened on Oct. 20, 2017, inside Frieden's Brooklyn residence, where a 55-year-old female acquaintance said he groped her rear, the NYPD said.

Frieden was charged with one count each of forcible touching, sex abuse and harassment, according to police.

“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,” a spokesperson for Frieden said in a statement to NBC New York.

Frieden was released without bail at his arraignment Friday afternoon, but did surrender his passport as a precaution. Brooklyn Criminal Court Judge Michael Yavinsky also issued an order of protection forbidding Frieden from contacting the victim.

He is due back in court on Oct. 11.

The CDC said it had no information about the allegation.

Frieden was director of the CDC from 2009 until January 2017, stepping down when President Donald Trump took office. Prior to that, he served as the New York City health commissioner from 2002 to 2009, where he led efforts to reduce smoking and eliminate artificial trans fats from restaurant menus.

As head of the CDC, Frieden championed advances that helped to end the Ebola epidemic. He was also at the helm during the height of the Zika outbreak, a virus that can cause serious birth defects if a pregnant women acquires it.

Since his resignation, he had been serving as president and CEO of Resolve to Save Lives, a $225 million, five-year initiative at Vital Strategies, a nonprofit global health organization.

José L. Castro, the president and CEO of Vital Strategies, said in a statement that Frieden told him in April that a "non-work-related friend of his and his family of more than 30 years accused him of inappropriate physical contact."

"I have known and worked closely with Dr. Frieden for nearly 30 years 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," Castro said, adding that earlier this month, Vital Strategies conducted interviews with every staff member of Frieden's team and determined there had been no incidents of workplace harassment.

Image: Former head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Tom Frieden (C), appears in Brooklyn's criminal court for his arraignment in New York
Former head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Tom Frieden, appears in Brooklyn's criminal court for his arraignment in New York on Aug. 24, 2018.Lucas Jackson / Pool via Reuters