'Machismo' culture

3 more women speak out, accuse former Costa Rican president of sexual misconduct

Former Costa Rican president (1986-1990 and 2006-2010) and Nobel Peace Prize-winner Oscar Arias Sanchez. (EZEQUIEL BECERRA/AFP/Getty Images)

Just days after a woman accused former Costa Rican President Oscar Arias of sexually assaulting her, three more women have come forward with their own disturbing allegations of sexual misconduct against the 78-year-old Nobel laureate.

Popular Costa Rican journalist and TV presenter Eleonora “Nono” Antillon told The Associated Press on Wednesday that Arias assaulted her three decades ago when she was a 25-year-old worker for his 1986 presidential campaign. Her decision to speak out after all this time, she said, was made in solidarity with psychiatrist and nuclear disarmament activist Dr. Alexandra Arce von Herold, who on Monday filed a criminal complaint alleging that Aria groped and fingered against her will during what was supposed to be a work meeting.

Speaking separately, Human Right Watch communications director Emma Daly alleged that Arias had publicly groped her in a hotel lobby in 1990 while the then-reporter was trying to interview him. A fourth woman, a 53-year-old book editor, also told The New York Times that Arias had felt up her leg during a 2012 meeting.

Speaking to AP, Antillon said she was working for a local TV station when she was told Arias wanted her to work on his presidential campaign. Despite some trepidation, she agreed, only to be summoned to a dinner where Arias met her in a private room. Near immediately, she said, he put his hand on her thigh and began trying to kiss her neck. She pushed him away and left the restaurant as he laughed, telling her that his behavior was meant “just to gain trust.”

Four days later, she said, she was speaking with Arias and another adviser when he sent the adviser away and began “staring hard at me.”

“He grabbed my hand and put it on his penis, over his pants,” Antillon told AP. “I said to him, ‘What are you doing?’ and he said, ‘What do you think we’re doing? Look how hard I am.’”

She fled the scene, she said, and went out of her way to avoid spending any time alone with him during the rest of her time working on his campaign. ”

“He sees himself as the master of the world, that everyone has to submit to him,” said Antillon. “He sees himself as a conqueror.”

Speaking to AP, Daly said that she was trying to ask Arias a question in a packed hotel lobby in 1990 when he, “instead of answering my question put his hand on my chest and sort of pulled it down between my breasts and then said, ‘You’re not wearing a bra.’”

The incident, she said, left her furious and humiliated, but she decided not to speak out at the time due to the prevalence of “machismo” culture in Costa Rica.

“I felt I would have been laughed out of whatever office I tried to complain to,” she said.

Read the full story at The Associated Press.

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