Greenwich Town Council Member Arrested After Political Argument

Connecticut Republican Christopher von Keyserling has been accused of "pinching" a woman inappropriately during a political dispute.

Published Jan 16, 2017

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On 15 January 2017, the Occupy Democrats web site published an article about a "Republican politician" named Christopher von Keyserling and purported actions of his that were supposedly inspired by Donald Trump:

A Republican Politician Just Grabbed a Woman by The P*ssy and Gave a Terrible Excuse

A local Republican politician in the posh town of Greenwich, CT was arrested recently for grabbing a woman by the genitals, an assault he and his lawyer characterized as “a playful gesture.” Christopher von Keyserling, 71 and a long time member of the Greenwich town council, was arrested and charged with fourth-degree sexual assault. He was released on $2,500 bail and has a court date set for January 25.

The incident occurred when von Keyserling encountered a 57 year-old woman in a hallway. A brief political argument ensued in which von Keyserling reportedly said “I love this new world, I no longer have to be politically correct.” When the woman tried to walk away, von Keyserling allegedly reached between her legs and pinched her groin, adding to the woman that “it would be your word against mine and no one will believe you.”

That’s right. In Trump’s America, Republican politicians can now “grab women by the p*ssy” since they don’t “have to be politically correct.”

According to police, surveillance footage of the incident is entirely consistent with the woman’s account.

The article directly linked von Keyserling's alleged actions to comments made by Donald Trump in 2005 (which were not publicly released until late 2016), adding that in "Trump's America" such transgressions were essentially the new norm. Von Keyserling has been referred to in reporting as a Republican politician, although his political role is a purely local one as a "member of the Representative Town Meeting" (i.e., a town council member).

Initially, the story of von Keyserling's arrest was primarily covered by local news outlets, and Occupy Democrats elided some of the details of their reporting of the related altercation and alleged assault. According to the Greenwich Daily Voice, the incident stemmed from an argument between von Keyserling and the unnamed complainant on 8 December 2016:

The incident began at about noon Dec. 8 when the 57-year-old woman encountered von Keyserling in the hallway of an unnamed town facility, the warrant said.

The two briefly spoke about politics and the woman told him that "it was a new world politically" and he had to educate his fellow politicians, the warrant said. Von Keyserling is a member of Greenwich's Representative Town Meeting.

He allegedly replied: "I love this new world, I no longer have to be politically correct," according to the warrant.

She told him that if he was "proud of that I can't help you," after which he called her a lazy, bloodsucking union employee, the warrant said.

She uttered "(expletive deleted) you" and walked into her office, the warrant said. She said he followed her into the office and said he wanted to talk with her co-worker, the warrant said.

When that co-worker walked in, she said she didn't have time to speak with him and left the office, the warrant said. The 57-year-old woman decided to leave with her co-worker because she didn't want to be alone with him, the warrant said.

As she walked by, he allegedly pinched her in the groin area, according to the warrant. She threatened to punch him if he ever did that again, the warrant said.

She said 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,'" according to the warrant.

Greenwich Time reported that von Keyserling "had a brief political discussion with a 57-year-old female employee," but the "[interaction] turned acrimonious," and the politician was arrested and charged with misdemeanor fourth-degree sexual assault:

Von Keyserling was arrested [11 January 2017] on a warrant issued in connection with an incident that took place Dec. 9 [2016] on Parsonage Road, according to the arrest report. He was arrested at Town Hall.

His lawyer, Phil Russell, described the charge as unrealistic.

Reached by phone, von Keyserling deferred comment to his attorney, Phil Russell. “It’s a sad situation,” von Keyserling said.

Russell said the incident in question, at the Nathaniel Witherell Home, could not be described as sexual or aggressive in nature. He said the charge stemmed from a “jocular” moment with a woman at a gathering at the town-owned senior facility.

“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, noting his client is in his 70s.

“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,” the lawyer said.

Von Keyserling will enter a plea of not guilty at his upcoming court appearance, his lawyer said.

The initial reporting about video surveillance footage of the reported altercation left it unclear how much of the incident was caught on tape (and whether captured audio also corroborated the complaint):

Police said video footage from a surveillance camera on the day of the incident is consistent with the sequence of events described by the complainant.

The Greenwich Time article contained a key deviation from other reports, referencing von Keyserling's allegedly having pinched the complainant "on her rear end" rather than her "groin":

The encounter continued in the office, and when the woman rose to leave, she was pinched on her rear end by von Keyserling, according to the affidavit.

The sequence of events documented on the video was consistent with the woman’s account, according to court papers, and she was seen pointing a finger at von Keyserling in a disapproving, agitated manner on the video.

We contacted Greenwich Time reporter Robert Marchant and obtained a copy of the warrant in question. Reflecting the ambiguity of conflicting reports, it stated that Von Keyserling allegedly "from behind ... pinched her in the groin area":

keyserling warrant 1
keyserling warrant 2
keyserling warrant 3

As of 16 January 2017, von Keyserling has been charged with a misdemeanor, with a court date of 25 January 2017 pending.


MacEachern, Frank.   "Cops: Greenwich Republican Insulted Town Worker, Then Pinched Her Groin."     Greenwich Daily Voice.   12 January 2017.

Marchant, Robert.   "Von Keyserling, RTM Member, Arrested on Criminal Charge."     Greenwich Time.   12 January 2017.

Kim LaCapria is a former writer for Snopes.

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