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November 18, 2018

Former US CDC director Frieden arrested for sexual abuse

Thomas Frieden, former director of US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. /REUTERS
Thomas Frieden, former director of US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. /REUTERS

Thomas Frieden, a former director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), was arrested in New York City on Friday on charges of sexual abuse, forcible touching and harassment of a woman last year, the New York Police Department said.

Frieden, who also once served as New York City's health commissioner, turned himself into a Brooklyn police station on Friday morning, Arlene Muniz, a police spokeswoman, said.

A 55-year-old woman filed a complaint against Frieden in July, accusing him of grabbing her buttocks against her will last October at his apartment in Brooklyn Heights, Muniz said.

Frieden, 57, had a prominent role in helping respond to the outbreaks of Ebola in West Africa in 2014 and Zika fever that began in Brazil in 2015.

As New York's health commissioner from 2002 to 2009, he oversaw efforts to ban smoking in public places. In 2009, President Barack Obama appointed him to head the CDC, the country's main public health agency. He stepped down in 2017.

Frieden remained in custody on Friday, Muniz said.

It was not immediately clear if he was represented by a lawyer. He was due to make an initial appearance in Brooklyn's criminal court later on Friday, the district attorney's office said.

Frieden graduated from Columbia University's medical school in 1986. After leaving government last year, Frieden became the president of Resolve to Save Lives, an effort by the non-profit health organization Vital Strategies to improve public health systems around the world that is funded by Bloomberg Philanthropies, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Vital Strategies did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Friday.

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