President-elect Donald Trump ran his 2016 campaign, in part, as a tweet-from-the-hip response to political correctness — a censoring groupthink which, to its detractors, demands arcane gender pronouns and the complete annihilation of “Merry Christmas.” In June, in the aftermath of the massacre at Orlando’s Pulse nightclub, Donald Trump issued a statement in which he declared, “I refuse to be politically correct.” The Obama administration, Trump also said, “put political correctness above common sense, above your safety, and above all else.”
With Trump’s victory, some see a boogeyman deposed and a license to be un-politically correct. Americans now live in “a new world” where people “no longer have to be politically correct,” said one Connecticut politician in December, according to the warrant for his arrest after allegedly pinching a town employee in the genitals.
A lawyer for Christopher von Keyserling, a 71-year-old Republican member of the Representative Town Meeting, the local legislative body that governs Greenwich, Conn., denied any impropriety. “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,” attorney Phil Russell told Greenwich Time on Thursday.
On Wednesday, police arrested von Keyserling. Greenwich police charged von Keyserling with misdemeanor sexual assault in the fourth degree.
In mid-December, a 57-year-old female town employee spotted the local politician in the municipal building where she worked. Their conversation became heated, according to the warrant for von Keyserling’s Jan. 11 arrest.
“This is a new world, politically, and you need to educate your fellow politicians,” the woman said to von Keyserling, as she later told a Greenwich police detective.
“I love this new world. I no longer have to be politically correct,” von Keyserling allegedly responded.
“If you’re proud of that,” she said, “I can’t help you.”
“You’re nothing but a lazy, bloodsucking union employee,” he said.
At that, the woman terminated the conversation with a “f‑‑‑ you” and walked away. Von Keyserling later entered the woman’s office, where she claimed he touched her inappropriately.
As described in the warrant, the incident evoked President-elect Trump’s conversation with Billy Bush, recorded in 2005, when Trump claimed he could grab women “by the p‑‑‑y” because he was “a star.” After the conversation surfaced in October, Trump apologized “if anyone was offended” by what he characterized as “locker-room banter.”
The Greenwich politician said he followed the woman into her office to speak with the woman’s co-worker. When the co-worker declined and left the room, the woman also moved to leave, as she did not want to be left alone with von Keyserling. It was then, according to the warrant obtained by fact-checking website Snopes, that von Keyserling “reached between her legs from behind and pinched her in the groin area.”
The woman turned to him and said, “You’re lucky I didn’t deck you, but if you ever f‑‑‑ing touch me again I will.”
She told police that von Keyserling met her glare with what she described as an “evil look in his eyes.”
“It would be your word against mine,” he said, according to the warrant, “and nobody will believe you.”
A security camera at the unnamed facility recorded footage of the encounter between von Keyserling and the woman. The videotape corroborated that von Keyserling had upset the woman, but police could not determine where his hand was located as she moved past him, Greenwich Time reported.
The woman notified her boss, but said she did not want to file a criminal complaint. Her boss told von Keyserling to stay away from the building. Greenwich Detective Jeremiah Bussell also told him to steer clear of the facility, according to the warrant. In the telephone conversation with the detective, von Keyserling reportedly apologized for the pinch, also expressing regret “it has gotten this out of hand.”
But by Dec. 16, the woman decided to press forward with a complaint, a decision she said she arrived at after learning that von Keyserling had touched other employees. In a discussion with a human resources director, von Keyserling asked if the complaint was about “the little pinch” he gave. He also described himself as “the kind of guy that likes to embarrass his teenage daughter” with what he called a “gig,” saying, “that’s what this was, ‘a gig.’ ” Russell, von Keyserling’s lawyer, told News 12 that it was a playful pinch between two people who had known each other for three decades.
Greenwich’s selectman’s office released a statement to Connecticut’s News 12, 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.”
Von Keyserling posted $2,500 in bail and is due to appear in court on Jan. 25, when his attorney said he will enter a not guilty plea, reported the Greenwich Time.
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