Nobel peace prize winner Óscar Arias Sánchez, also the former president of Costa Rica, has found himself embroiled in controversy after being accused of sexual assault by anti-nuclear activist and peace campaigner Dr. Alexandra Arce von Herold.
Herold alleged that she was assaulted in 2014 when she visited the now 78-year-old Arias at his house in San Jose, Costa Rica, to discuss an event. On Monday, Herold sat with federal officials in New York for three hours to file a criminal complaint against the former two-term president.
Arias has denied all the claims and through his lawyer, Rodolfo Brenes, said, "I have never acted in disrespect of the will of any woman, much less in the case of their freedom to relate with another person. In my public life, I have promoted gender equality since I consider it an indispensable means to achieving a more just and equitable society for all people."
Arias served as Costa Rica president from 1986 to 1990 and 2006 to 2010. He received Nobel peace prize in 1987 when he made a plan to end the civil war in Costa Rica. The plan included "free elections, safeguards for human rights, and an end to foreign interference in the countries' internal affairs," according to a report by Fox News.
A publication Semanario Universidad stated that Arias the incident took place on December 1, 2014. Arias tried to touch von Herold's breasts, put his hand up her skirt and penetrated her with his fingers.
"I do not remember well what he replied to me, but he continued to touch me. Then he told me to wait a bit and he left the office. I didn't know what to do. I felt trapped at that moment," the victim was quoted as saying by The Guardian.
Reports state that she told around 15 people immediately after the incident took place. Last year she also wrote Facebook and Instagram post detailing the incident but was adviced to take it down because it might result in negative consequences.
Arias is already in the middle of another unrelated incident where he has been accused of criminal malfeasance for his relationship with a gold mining project in Canada.