Chris von Keyserling, a former RTM district chair and 32 year member of that body, was sentenced on Tuesday to 90 days of house arrest with electronic monitoring and two years probation.
He had pleaded not guilty to a 2016 charge of Sexual Assault 4th degree and pursued a jury trial. In July he was convicted in Stamford Superior Court.
Mr. von Keyserling had faced up to a year in jail after being found guilty of groping a woman, who was an employee of the town-owned nursing home the Nathaniel Witherell, at a holiday party there.
According to his arrest warrant, von Keyserling said to his victim, “You’re nothing but a lazy, bloodsucking union employee.”
“I love this new world,” he continued, adding, “I no longer have to be politically correct,” before pinching her in the groin.
Before his troubles began in 2016, Mr. von Keyserling was for years a ubiquitous presence at government meetings ranging from the Board of Selectmen, to the Board of Education, to the Housing Authority. He was a regular on parade routes and a frequent guest at the St Lawrence Club.
But long before his arrest, von Keyserling was the inspiration for an RTM Decorum Report. (RTM Decorum Comm Rpt final) In 2001 the RTM formed a special committee who wrote a 24-page report following Mr. von Keyserling’s alleged personal attacks against a woman nominated to be an alternate on Inland Wetlands and Watercourses Agency. The decorum committee recommended that von Keyserling be reprimanded by the moderator for his inappropriate conduct.
And though Mr. von Keyserling’s arrest made national and international headlines and the Board of Selectmen issued a statement urging him to resign, he declined to withdraw his name from the November 2017 ballot, though he did temporarily yield his position as chair.
After the Women’s March in Washington, DC, where hundreds of thousands of women protested Donald Trump’s agenda the day after his inauguration, a group of Greenwich women who had traveled to DC formed March On Greenwich. The group was chagrined at von Keyserling’s behavior, and disappointed when their request to read a public statement at an RTM meeting was declined.
Their response was to recruit candidates, mostly women, to run for RTM.
In district #8, where there were 37 candidates for 26 seats, including von Keyserling.
In his candidate bio, von Keyserling listed “provision of public debate without the fanatical bullying and character assassination of public volunteers in the media” as a key issue facing the town of Greenwich.
Mr. von Keyserling failed to achieve enough votes for a 17th term.
After losing his RTM career and living under a protective order for five years.
On Tuesday the victim’s husband told Channel 12 the sentencing was a form of closure for him and his wife after a “long and arduous journey” the five year ordeal.
“He lost and he’s going to pay a price,” he said.
During his 90 days of house arrest, von Keyserling will only be able to leave home for specific occasions, including doctor’s appointments, counseling and religious services.
He will not be required to register as a sex offender, but judge Kevin Randolph issued a 10-year criminal protective order against him. It will expire on Oct 4, 2031.
Mr. von Keyserling’s attorney Phil Russell said he and his client were pleased with Tuesday’s outcome.
“At the same time, it was five years of pre-trial here where he was living under a protective order and in the public eye. He lost his seat in elected government and he’s no longer involved in civic affairs, which is something that he valued. So, there’s been a price paid.”