Retail mogul Sir Philip Green has been charged with four counts of misdemeanor assault in the US, after a Pilates instructor accused him of repeatedly slapping and touching her body during classes.
The billionaire chairman of Arcadia group, the retail empire that includes Topshop, was charged with “knowingly touching another person with the intent to injure, insult or provoke” in 2016 and 2018, said Deputy County Attorney Lauren E. Deakin for Pima County, Arizona, to CNN.
Each count of misdemeanor assault carries a potential sentence of up to 30 days in jail, a fine of not more than $500 and up to one year of probation.
The allegations of assault were made by Pilates instructor Katie Surridge who told police in Arizona that Green touched her inappropriately at the Canyon Ranch resort in Tucson, according to the Press Association.
In a statement given to CNN on behalf of Philip Green, the businessman “strenuously denies these allegations and is disappointed that the charges have been filed in his absence and they are minor categories of misdemeanor in the United States.” The statement also denied “any allegation of any sexual assault or misconduct made by the prosecution.”
In a police interview obtained by the British news agency, Surridge told Pima County Detective David Stivers that the “creepy old man” had “vigorously” slapped her bottom in January 2016. Surridge told resort staff, who said they spoke to Green and reassured her it wouldn’t happen again.
However, in January 2018, Green took another class with Surridge and allegedly assaulted her again, according to the interview obtained by PA. The mother-of-three told police that “this time, instead of slapping my butt, he puts his hands, like, he wraps his hands around my waist and then grabs my butt cheek and just puts his hand there and just holds it there as he’s hugging me.”
Once again, Surridge informed management at Canyon Ranch about what had happened, according to PA.
“Katie is aware charges were filed and trusts justice will take its course,” Surridge attorney Peter Limperis told CNN.
A spokesperson for Canyon Ranch told CNN they would not comment on the allegations but said they “do not condone or tolerate inappropriate behavior towards our employees.”
An arraignment date is set for June 19 at 9 a.m. in Tucson where Green will be represented by his lawyer. He will also be fingerprinted and photographed by the Pima County Sherriff’s Department.