Christopher Von Keyserling, a Republican member of the Representative Town Meeting of Greenwich, Connecticut, was arrested on January 11 for allegedly “pinching” a female staffer at the Nathaniel Witherell Home in an incident on December 8.
According to the arrest warrant, Von Keyserling allegedly told the woman during a conversation that he loves “this new world” where “I no longer have to be politically correct.”
The 71-year-old Von Keyserling was released on $2,500 bond and will be back in court on January 25.
Here’s a look at the case and Von Keyserling’s career.
1. Von Keyserling Allegedly Told the Victim That He Doesn’t Have to be ‘Politically Correct’ & Called Her a ‘Bloodsucking Union Employee’
According to the arrest warrant, which was obtained by Greenwich Time and posted by Snopes, the alleged incident on December 9 began when Von Keyserling was in a conversation with the 57-year-old victim, whose name was not released. She was accompanied by two friends, including Greenwich Assistant Director of Human Resources Erica Mahoney. She told police that she did not know why Von Keyserling was at the Nathaniel Witherell Home, although she did know Von Keyserling before the alleged incident.
The woman told police that, during their conversation, she told him, “This is a new world (politically) and you need to educate your fellow politicians.” According to the warrant, Von Keyserling replied, “I love this new world, I no longer have to be politically correct.”
“If you’re that proud of that I can’t help you,” the woman replied, she told police.
“You’re nothing but a lazy, bloodsucking union employee,” Von Keyserling replied, according to the warrant.
The woman told police that she told him, “F**k you” and walked away.
Von Keyserling didn’t mention President-Elect Donald Trump, but Trump has complained about political correctness on the campaign trail and after winning the general election.
2. The Woman Told Police That Von Keyserling ‘Pinched Her in the Groin Area,’ According to the Warrant
After their initial conversation, Von Keyserling went to the woman’s office and said he was there to meet with one of her co-workers, according to the warrant. However, when the co-worker said she did not have time to meet with him, the victim left the office with her co-worker. As she walked past him, Von Keyserling “reached between her legs from behind and pinched her in the groin area,” the warrant reads.
The woman told police that she turned around and told him, “You’re lucky I didn’t deck you, but if you ever f**king touch me again I will.” She told police that he looked back at her “with a really evil look in his eyes” and told her that it would be her word against his.
The woman told police that she spoke with her boss about the alleged incident. Her boss notified the Deputy Director of the Witherall Home. The Deputy Director took the statement and sent it to the Executive Director.
The woman also told police that she waited to make a criminal complaint against Von Keyserling because she thought Greenwich’s Human Resources Department was handling the situation. She also said that Von Keyserling received a phone call, telling him to stay away from the Witherall Home. The woman and a friend did report the incident to Human Resources on December 9.
According to the warrant, Von Keyserling called Mahoney and said the “whole thing was a misunderstanding.”
Detective Jeremiah Bussell later spoke with Von Keyserling on December 9 and he told the detective that he was sorry for pinching the woman, the warrant notes. He also told the detective that he was sorry “it has gotten this out of hand,” the warrant reads.
Mahoney told police that in her phone call with Von Keyserling, she told him about the complaint from the victim. “Was this about the little pinch I gave?” he asked Mahoney, according to the warrant. She told him that she couldn’t reveal the details about the complaint, but he was “drawing the right conclusions.” He told Mahoney that it was a joke and was surprised that the victim took it so seriously.
On December 16, the woman returned to the police department and decided to file a criminal complaint, the warrant notes. She feared retribution and learned that Von Keyserling has faced similar allegations in the past. “The victim believes she must move forward in order to prevent this from happening again to other women,” the warrant reads.
3. Von Keyserling’s Lawyer Said It Was a ‘Playful Gesture’ & ‘Calling it a Sexual Assault is Not Based in Reality’
Von Keyserling’s lawyer, Phil Russell, spoke with the Greenwich Time and called the case a “sad situation.”
“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 told the Time. “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 will enter a ‘not guilty’ plea during his court appearance, Russell said.
The arrest warrant did not note where the alleged incident took place, but Russell confirmed that it was at the Nathaniel Witherall Home.
4. In 2013, Von Keyserling Got Into a Feud With Another RTM Member & Police Were Called to Town Hall
In March 2013, Greenwich Time reported that Von Keyserling and Erford Porter II got into a verbal confrontation over a committee meeting. Porter even called police to Town Hall, but there were no arrests.
According to the Time, the two Representative Town Meeting (RTM) members argued over a special subcommittee meeting about leasing town-owned properties to nonprofit organizations. Porter was the chairman. Von Keyserling accused Perter of holding a meeting without giving the public 24 hours notice, as the Freedom of Information Act requires.
Although Porter did admit that he made a mistake, Von Keyserling later told the Time that Porter lost control.
“Erf was going bananas,” Von Keyserling told the Time. “He accused me of planning this attack on him because it was the first anniversary of having a stent put in his heart. He was driving himself to a heart attack.”
5. Von Keyserling Supported Howard Stern Producer Gary Dell’Abate’s Candidacy for a Board of Parks & Recreation Seat
In 2011, radio shock jock Howard Stern’s executive producer, Gary Dell’Abate, tried to win a seat on the Board of Parks and Recreation in Greenwich. Although the RTM Appointments Committee endorsed Dell’Abate, the Parks committee voted against him in March 2011. Still, he did earn a seat on the board.
As the Stamford Advocate reported in 2011, Von Keyserling supported Dell-Abate’s endorsement. He also defended Stern, who made fun of the RTM on his show. He wasn’t offended by Stern’s jokes.
“They’ll pick on anybody for laughs,” Von Keyserling told the Advocate. “It’s not personal. It’s what they do.”