Accused of inappropriately touching a woman last year, the former director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) was arrested by the NYPD on Friday. Taken into custody by the NYPD’s Special Victims Division in Brooklyn, Dr. Thomas Frieden was charged with forcible touching, sexual abuse, and harassment.
From 2009 to 2017, Dr. Frieden served as the director of the CDC during the Obama administration. He also previously served as New York City Health Commissioner between 2002 and 2009 under Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
According to reports, Frieden invited a few people over to his Brooklyn Heights apartment on October 20, 2017. As Frieden’s acquaintances began to leave, he allegedly groped a 55-year-old woman’s buttocks against her will.
Although Frieden and the victim have reportedly known each other for more than 20 years, they were not believed to have had an intimate relationship. On Friday, Frieden turned himself into the NYPD’s Special Victims Division and was charged with sexual abuse, forcible touching, and harassment.
Frieden currently serves as president and CEO of Resolve to Save Lives, a global health non-profit, which is an initiative of Vital Strategies. Jose Castro, president and CEO of Vital Strategies, recently issued the following statement: “In April of this year, Dr. Tom Frieden, who heads our Resolve to Save Lives Initiative, informed me 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.
“Vital Strategies is committed to a workplace that is free of sexual harassment. 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. This assessment determined there have been no incidents of workplace harassment.
“Vital Strategies greatly values the work Dr. Frieden does to advance public health and he has my full confidence.”
While serving as CDC director, Frieden decided to temporarily cease deliveries of all infectious agents from the agency’s highest‐security labs after employees were nearly exposed to deadly strains of anthrax and bird flu in separate incidents. Due to lax security, an unauthorized man was discovered in a restricted area of the Biosafety Level 3 labs. After bypassing several unlocked doors, he was found in an animal‐holding area where they test the SARS virus, monkeypox, and anthrax.
In a 2014 report, USDA inspectors revealed CDC employees using Ziploc bags to transport “select agent materials,” and some lab workers who potentially were exposed had not been examined for five days following notification.