Tom Frieden, a leading public health expert instrumental in the US response to the Ebola crisis and to legislating against smoking, was arrested and charged with sexual harassment on Friday.
The executive, who served as head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) under president Barack Obama from 2009 to 2017, appeared before a Brooklyn criminal court and was released without bail, prosecutors said.
He was arrested on charges of forcible touching, sexual abuse and harassment of a 55-year-old woman in upmarket Brooklyn Heights.
He is accused of touching the woman's buttocks and squeezing without her consent in October 2017. The woman filed a complaint in July, police confirmed to AFP.
Judge Michael Yavinsky prohibited him from having any contact with the victim. Frieden surrendered his passport and is next due in court on October 11, prosecutors said.
He is currently president and CEO of Resolve to Save Lives, a $225 million initiative at global health non-profit Vital Strategies, which is funded in part by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
In his former job, he led CDC work that is credited with helping to end the Ebola epidemic.
He served as New York city health commissioner from 2002-2009 under billionaire mayor Michael Bloomberg, leading efforts to legislate against smoking.
A physician by training, he has degrees from Columbia University, completed an infectious disease fellowship at Yale University and has authored more than 200 scientific publications.