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Tom Frieden, former CDC director, arrested, accused of forcibly touching woman

August 24, 2018

Dr. Tom Frieden, the former director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, was arrested Friday on charges he inappropriately touched a woman in New York City, police said.

The New York Police Department said Dr. Frieden is accused of forcibly grabbing the buttocks of a 55-year-old woman in October at his home in Brooklyn.

Dr. Frieden and the woman knew each other, authorities said. He was charged with forcible touching, sex abuse and harassment.

Dr. Frieden is a longtime health expert who led efforts to ban smoking in workplaces and restaurants as New York City health commissioner from 2002 to 2009, before taking charge of the CDC under President Obama.

He rose to prominence by spearheading the U.S. response to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa that killed more than 11,000 people from 2013 to 2016.

Dr. Frieden made frequent trips to Capitol Hill to testify on the response and detail efforts to screen incoming travelers from the hot zone.

In tense exchanges, he tried to assuage lawmakers who called for more stringent measures, such as an outright ban on people from Libera, Sierra Leone and Guinea.

And he highlighted the dangers of Zika, a mosquito-borne illness tied to birth defects, as the Obama administration prodded Congress to authorize more than $1 billion for the response in 2016.

Dr. Frieden left government after President Trump was elected and took charge of the Resolve to Save Lives, a campaign to save 100 million lives by preventing heart attack and stroke.

The five-year campaign is funded by Bloomberg Philanthropies, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, and the Bill Melinda Gates Foundation.

Vital Strategies, the public health organization that oversees the initiative, vouched for Dr. Frieden’s character Friday and said an outside investigation found no problems in the workplace.

President and CEO Jose L. Castro said Dr. Frieden told him in April that a longtime friend of his family had accused him of inappropriate physical contact.

Although the woman doesn’t work there, Vital Strategies had an outside expert interview every member of the Resolve to Save Lives team to see if Dr. Frieden acted inappropriately.

“This assessment determined there have been no incidents of workplace harassment,” Mr. Castro said. “Vital Strategies greatly values the work Dr. Frieden does to advance public health and he has my full confidence.”

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