New York police probe assault claim against Eliot Spitzer; lawyer disputes

Reuters News
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Posted: Feb 15, 2016 8:59 PM

(Reuters) - New York City police on Monday said an investigation was ongoing regarding a woman's claim that former Governor Eliot Spitzer assaulted her at a Manhattan hotel, while his lawyer told the New York Times the alleged victim had retracted her claim.

Detectives were trying to determine whether Spitzer, whose political ascent ended in 2008 when he resigned from the governorship amid a prostitution scandal, was involved in an incident on Saturday at the luxury Plaza Hotel, a police spokesman said. No further details were given.

A spokeswoman for Spitzer, Lisa Linden, said there was no truth to the allegation.

Spitzer’s lawyer told the New York Times on Monday that a 26-year-old woman who told hospital staff that the former governor had choked her had since recanted the claim and sent an email apologizing for the false statement.

Attorney Adam Kaufmann said he had sent the email to the Manhattan District Attorney's office.

Reuters could not immediately reach Kaufmann to confirm the report.

According to the account Kaufmann gave the Times, Spitzer knew the woman. She had asked the ex-politician and former prosecutor to book her a hotel room on Saturday before she returned to Russia on Sunday.

The pair talked for a brief time and then Spitzer left, according to the newspaper report. She later called Spitzer, sounding "distraught," the lawyer told the Times.

Spitzer returned to the Plaza, where the woman had called 911 reporting a suicide attempt, Kaufmann said. Spitzer was trying to calm her when detectives arrived to take her to the hospital, Kaufmann told the newspaper.

The woman told hospital staff the former governor had tried to choke her, he said.

On Sunday she flew back to Russia, as planned, and saw news reports on the investigation and apologized via email, Kaufmann said.

Known as the "Sheriff of Wall Street" during his tenure as New York's attorney general, Spitzer was elected governor in a landslide victory in 2006. But his political career derailed after just a year in office when he was exposed as a client in a prostitution ring.

(Reporting by Victoria Cavaliere; Editing by Dan Grebler)