News broke last week that a Connecticut Republican politician, 71-year-old Christopher von Keyserling, was arrested and charged as a result of a sexual assault he allegedly committed a month prior. The incident, captured on a security camera, involved the politician pinching a woman's backside, who then admonished him. The politician, through his attorney, asserts that the action was a playful gesture and trivial.
Nevertheless, the politician was arrested last Wednesday for the assault which occurred on December 9, 2016. The victim stated that Keyserling allegedly said to her during an exchange prior to the incident that in "this new world," he "no longer [had] to be politically correct." Also, Keyserling allegedly threatened, after the incident, that if she complained, it would be his word against hers, implying his word carried more weight. Now, it really is, but unfortunately for Keyserling, police believe the video evidence backs up the victim's story.
Grabbing Is Illegal
Grabbing another person without consent can be illegal. Context is very important, but if the person doing the grabbing is wrong, they can be civilly and criminally liable. Generally, state laws provide that intentional unwanted touching of any kind does not have to be tolerated. There is no fundamental, constitutional right to touch another person, and even gentle touches can lead to legal liability.
However, grabbing, pinching, and slapping, even playfully, are not gentle touches, especially, if they are done to a person's sensitive or private areas. Additionally, even if there is no physical injury, an unwanted touching can result in emotional harm. The gist of most states' laws is that any harmful touching is afforded protection according to the level of harm. Unwanted sexual touching tends to be afforded the most protection.
In Keyserling's case, while the politician may believe a simple pinch on the butt is a sign of affection and a playful way to tease a potential love interest, he is mistaken to believe this sort of conduct is within the law or becoming of a lawmaker. While it is expected that he will plead not guilty, it will be an interesting case to follow.