Photos of Sussex County Sheriff Michael Strada with his hand on a woman's behind that circulated on social media were apparently "completely fabricated," the woman in the photo told local media.
The woman -- who privately disclosed her identity to NJ.com -- said she was never inappropriately touched by the sheriff and even defended his character.
"Sheriff Strada is an honest, decent public official and this controversy over what seems to be an enhanced, six-second video has been completely fabricated by a man who is shamelessly hiding behind a phony name, a phony Facebook page and the #MeToo movement to defame people purely for political gain," according to the woman's statement published by NJ.com.
The photos were taken at a Stillwater Fire Department installation dinner in February 2018 and first published on the Hopatcong News website last month.
Strada said the photos were a “deliberate falsification for no purpose but to slander and defame my good character," and accused his opponent Andrew Boden's campaign of circulating them during the June 4 primary.
Boden was apparently suspended with pay from his job as a lieutenant in the county jail in January, but then without pay in March the day after he announced his candidacy, NJ.com says.
The lieutenant said his suspension was the result of an argument with his colleague in January but was targeted after he publicized his political goals, the article says.
The woman apparently pictured asked her "social media stalker" to stop intruding on the lives of her family and Strada's.
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