Former CDC Director Frieden Arrested on Sex Abuse Charges

Marcia Frellick

August 24, 2018

UPDATE: Story updated to include information about afternoon court appearance. // Tom Frieden, MD, MPH, director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) from 2009 to 2017, was arrested in New York City today on charges of forcible touching, sex abuse, and harassment of a woman in 2017, according to multiple media reports, which cited information from the New York Police Department.

Dr Tom Frieden

CNN reported: "A law enforcement official said that the alleged victim and Frieden had known each other for several years," stating that the charges stem from a dinner party in October 2017 at Frieden's apartment in Brooklyn Heights at which, as people were leaving, Frieden allegedly grabbed the buttocks of a 55-year-old woman without her consent.

Frieden, 57, turned himself in and, according to Politico, appeared briefly in a Brooklyn courtroom this afternoon and was released with no bail. Judge Michael Yavinsky ordered Frieden not to communicate with his accuser and told him to surrender his passport. His next court appearance is October 11.

CNN reported that charges include "one count of forcible touching, one count of sex abuse in the third degree and one count of harassment in the second degree."

Reuters reported that the woman filed the complaint in July. 

Frieden stepped down from the CDC at the beginning of the Trump presidency, citing protocol. He had headed the CDC longer than any other director with the exception of the late David Sencer, MD, who served from 1966 to 1977.  

Before his stint at the CDC, Frieden served as the New York City health commissioner from 2002 to 2009.

He now serves as the president and CEO of Resolve to Save Lives, a global health nonprofit.

Jose Castro, president and CEO of Vital Strategies, the parent nonprofit of Resolve to Save Lives, told CNN 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.”

Castro said, “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."

He added, "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."

Neither Vital Strategies nor the CDC responded to Medscape Medical News' request for comment.

For more news, join us on Facebook and Twitter


Comments on Medscape are moderated and should be professional in tone and on topic. You must declare any conflicts of interest related to your comments and responses. Please see our Commenting Guide for further information. We reserve the right to remove posts at our sole discretion.