POLITICS

Ex-CDC Director, Recently Charged With Sexual Abuse, Hired By Powerful Think Tank

Tom Frieden was accused of groping a family friend and pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct in June. The Council on Foreign Relations hired him this week.
Tom Frieden, former director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, exits Brooklyn Criminal Court following his a
Tom Frieden, former director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, exits Brooklyn Criminal Court following his arrest on sex abuse charges, Aug. 24, 2018, in New York City.

Less than a year after being convicted in a sexual misconduct case, Tom Frieden, the former director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, has been hired as a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, a powerful think tank.

“The Council on Foreign Relations welcomes physician and thought leader Dr. Tom Frieden to its David Rockefeller Studies Program as a senior fellow for global health,” CFR announced on Tuesday. In his new role, Frieden will work with CFR’s Global Health program and will contribute to the group’s new website, Think Global Health.

Nowhere in the announcement did CFR note that Frieden was accused in 2017 of groping a woman and was later charged with forcible touching, sexual abuse and harassment. A family friend accused him of grabbing her buttocks without her consent while Frieden and his wife were hanging out with the victim and her husband. Frieden avoided jail time by pleading guilty in June 2019 to a lesser charge of disorderly conduct.

“As is the protocol with all new hires, CFR has conducted a thorough background check of Dr. Frieden,” Lisa Shields, CFR’s vice president of media relations, told HuffPost. She added that the case of Frieden groping a family friend “is a personal matter that has been resolved.”

I should also emphasize that every employee here at CFR is subject to our longstanding policy on respectful conduct in the workplace,” Shields said.

Frieden tweeted on Tuesday that he was honored to be joining the group and looks forward to “furthering global public health progress.”

Frieden’s accuser wrote about her interaction with him in a 2018 blog post, but did not name Frieden in the article. She wrote that the altercation happened in 2017 but she chose to stay silent about it because he “kind of” apologized and she didn’t want to get him in trouble. It wasn’t until later that she realized he had manipulated her, going so far as to say she shouldn’t report him because he is doing something good for humanity. “I have committed my life to end human suffering. I can save many lives,” she alleged that he said at the time.

Frieden served as director of the CDC under President Barack Obama from 2009 to 2017. During this time, he played a large role in preventing the Ebola virus from breaking out in the U.S. Prior to his role at the CDC, Frieden served as the New York City health commissioner from 2002 to 2009, under then-Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

After he left the CDC, Frieden became the president and CEO of Resolve to Save Lives, a global health initiative that is part of an international organization named Vital Strategies. Resolve to Save Lives is funded by Bloomberg Philanthropies, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

He kept the job even after his August 2018 arrest for groping his family friend. Afterward, President and CEO of Vital Strategies Jose Castro said the company conducted “a thorough investigation,” including in-depth interviews with staff members, to determine if Frieden had ever been inappropriate at work. Vital Strategies concluded that there had been “no incidents of workplace harassment” by Frieden.