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Dr. Thomas Frieden, the former head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, settled charges of sexual harassment Tuesday with a guilty plea to a lesser violation.

Frieden, who led the CDC from 2009 to 2017, pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct, striking a deal that will leave him with no criminal record if he stays out of trouble for a year, according to press reports.

Frieden had been charged with forcible touching, sexual abuse, and harassment in connection with a 2017 incident at his Brooklyn, N.Y., home. He was accused of grabbing a woman’s buttocks without her permission during the incident. Frieden pleaded not guilty to those charges in August.


Neither Frieden’s attorney nor his spokesperson responded to requests for comment Tuesday.

Frieden, 58, was named to head the CDC by former President Barack Obama. He began his tenure as CDC director in the early days of the 2009 H1N1 pandemic. Prior to taking the top job at the CDC, Frieden had been commissioner of New York City’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, where he led an ambitious agenda involving banning trans fats served in food in the city’s restaurants and banning smoking in workplaces and restaurants.


Upon leaving the CDC, Frieden founded a nongovernmental organization working to combat disease outbreaks and chronic diseases globally. The organization, called Resolve to Save Lives, is part of the group Vital Strategies.

Resolve is funded by Bloomberg Philanthropies, the charitable foundation run by his former boss, former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg. It started with $225 million in funding over five years, including from the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

After Frieden’s arrest in August, Vital Strategies said in a statement that it hired an outside expert to conduct “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” and found that he had done nothing wrong within the organization.

  • OH thank You Ben for enlightening me. Do you really doubt that he has caused great harm and death by his actions? Do you think his words were NOT self serving . Millions and millions of pain patients have been in a study for approximately 300 years, the beginning of this country anyway and over and over they have continuously stated opioids work and alternatives not so much!
    Thank You for letting me entertain you, if even for a minute.

  • I doubt the harm she has caused him is anyway comparable too the damage he has caused millions not to mention his biases that has caused thousands of deaths to those who were refused their opioids. What has he done to repair these peoples harm? Nothing me thinks. Do you really think he has even taken
    the time to apologize for the pain and death he has caused?

  • Malicious abuse of justice system. The woman was a longtime friend of Dr. Frieden. If she objected to him grabbing her at the end of an evening at his home, after drinking apparently, she only needed to tell him.

    Instead she dragged him through hell. Makes life just that much _hittier.

  • Mr. Frieden sold out millions of Americans who are suffering in pain because of the CDC’s Opioid Prescribing Guidelines for Chronic Pain in 2016. Thousands of Patients have commited suicide because doctors refuse to treat chronic pain. What is shameful is approximately 10 war veterans a day are commiting suicide from the lack of pain medication.He used information that was obtained from questionable sources including Dr. Andrew Kolodny.
    The Washington Legal Foundation sent a message to Thomas Frieden and Debra Hourly questioning the legallity of their resourses.
    This doctor is Not of high moral standards.

  • Tom can contribute a lot to improve world’s health, he is too gentle to handle such funny accusations in this new era. Let him work to improve the health of all, good and bad people. He has tremendous potential to contribute much more in future than in past. Our full support to his long-run ambitions for ‘Good Health’.

  • When one can buy off one’s involvement in perpetuating sexual harassment, is that not very similar to corruption? A legal system that tolerates such “buy-out” deals is running backwards, straight to Wild West mentality.

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