15 Jan 2017 07:07 PM EST
-by Trista McKenzie, Contributing Writer; Image: Christopher von Keyserling (Image Source: Facebook via Daily Voice)
A well-known Greenwich, Conn., Republican town official was arrested this week and charged with sexual assault after calling a town worker "nothing but a bloodsucking lazy union employee" and later pinching her between her legs in the groin area.
According to police, Christopher von Keyserling, 71, was arrested Wednesday at Greenwich Town Hall, News 12 Connecticut reports. He has served on the Greenwich Representative Town Meeting board since 1985. Von Keyserling was charged with fourth-degree sexual assault.
According to the Daily Voice, he posted $2,500 bond and was released. He is set to appear in court on January 25.
The aforementioned incident occurred at around noon on December 8, 2016, when the 57-year-old woman encountered von Keyserling in the hallway of a town facility, according to the warrant. The two spoke about politics, and the woman noted that "it was a new world politically" and that von Keyserling must educate his fellow politicians.
"I love this new world, I no longer have to be politically correct," he allegedly replied.
According to the warrant, she replied that if he was "proud of that I can't help you." He then insulted her by calling her "a bloodsucking lazy union employee."
She responded with "[expletive deleted] you" and entered her office, into which he followed her and said he wanted to talk with her co-worker, the warrant continued. When that co-worker walked in, she told them that she did not have time to speak with him and left the office. The victim also decided to leave with her co-worker, as she did not feel comfortable alone with him.
As she passed him, he then allegedly pinched her in the groin near her genitals, the warrant states. She then threatened to punch him if he did that again. She added that he "looked back with a really evil look in his eyes and said, 'It would be your word against mine and nobody will believe you.'"
The next day, she, along with a friend and the town's Assistant Director of Human Resources, visited the police department to report the incident. She noted that she did not want to have a criminal complaint laid against him. A detective later contacted von Keyserling, who responded that the incident was a misunderstanding. The woman returned to police headquarters on December 16 to move forward with the complaint.
Police noted that surveillance camera footage from the day of the incident is consistent with the events described by the complainant.
Still, von Keyserling's lawyer, Phil Russell, maintains that the assault was only meant to be "playful."
"In almost 30 years of practicing law in this town, I would say Mr. von Keyserling is the one person I would never suspect of having any inappropriate sexual predilections," Russell said. "There was a playful gesture, in front of witnesses. It was too trivial to be considered anything of significance. To call it a sexual assault is not based in reality."
"Von Keyserling playfully gave a lady who he knew for 30 years a pinch is what the accusation is," Russell also said to News 12. "And somehow, everybody's wringing their hands and carrying on that this is a crime, and it just isn't."
The selectman's followed up with a statement saying: "The town has zero tolerance for this alleged behavior. For years we've had training programs in place for all employees and beyond but cannot comment because this is an allegation that will be adjudicated in the court of law."
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