SAN JOSE – Former Costa Rican president Oscar Arias gave a statement to prosecutors on Wednesday on sexual assault charges lodged against him by two women.
Arias, 78, told journalists outside the Attorney General’s Office that his lawyers instructed him not to comment publicly on the allegations.
The first criminal complaint was filed last Monday by Alexandra Arce von Herold, a 34-year-old psychiatrist and activist who said she was sexually assaulted by Arias in December 2014 while meeting with the Nobel Peace laureate to enlist his support for her organization’s campaign against nuclear weapons.
Three days later, the winner of the 1994 Miss Costa Rica beauty contest brought charges against Arias.
Yasmin Morales said Arias invited her to his home in 2015 to give her a book and that, once she was inside, he grabbed her by the head, pressed her against him, touched her breasts and kissed her against her will.
Morales also came to the AG Office on Wednesday to expand on her original statement.
Since Arce’s complaint became public, other women have come forward in the media and on social-networking sites to accuse Arias of sexual misconduct ranging from making unwanted advances to groping and fondling.
Journalists Nono Antillon and Emma Daly say Arias sexually abused them in 1986 and 1990, respectively.
Costa Rican media also reported on allegations leveled by the editor of Arias’ book “Con velas, timon y brujula,” Marta Araya, who says that in 2012 the politician offered to give her massages.
Monica Morales, a reporter for the Costa Rican magazine Perfil, wrote an article last Wednesday in that publication alleging that Arias insinuated during an 2013 interview that she sit on his lap.
US academic Carina Black told The New York Times that Arias tried to kiss her during a 1998 visit to the University of Nevada, Reno, where she teaches.
“I pushed him, and I smacked him in the face,” she said in a story published by The Times last Sunday.
News of the accusations against Arias has prompted an increase in reports of sexual misconduct appearing in Costa Rica social media in the context of the #MeToo and #Yotecreo (I believe you) movements.
Arias governed Costa Rica from 1986 to 1990 and again from 2006 to 2010 as the standard-bearer of the National Liberation Party (PLN).
He was awarded the 1987 Nobel Peace Prize for his work to bring peace to Central America.
Arias issued a statement last Tuesday through his legal team denying Arce’s allegations, while the PLN said that he had decided not to participate in any party-related activities during the legal process.
The former head of state wed second wife Suzanne Fischel in 2012.