Groper claims come back to haunt Arnie

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The Independent US

Allegations of groping, which dogged the final days of Arnold Schwarzenegger's campaign to become Governor of California, exploded into the open once more in a public spat between the movie star politician and the state's top prosecutor.

Bill Lockyer, California's attorney general, infuriated the governor-elect by warning in a news conference this week that the groping issue "is not going to go away until he [Schwarzenegger] is willing to have some form of independent, third-party review of those complaints to see if there is any criminal liability attached".

A volley of statements from Mr Schwarzenegger's transition team - he is due to take office on 17 November - sought to paint Mr Lockyer as the villain for revealing the contents of a private conversation with Mr Schwarzenegger. A spokesman said the governor-elect would probably hire a private investigator to look into the charges, but was now inclined not to share the results of that investigation with the attorney general.

In the closing days of the election campaign, 16 women came forward alleging Mr Schwarzenegger manhandled them and made aggressive advances - which, if true, could qualify as sexual battery, legal experts say.

Mr Schwarzenegger apologised, said he had sometimes behaved badly, without giving specifics, and postponed any further scrutiny of his past behaviour until after the election.

"He obviously thinks that there's not a legitimate basis for the complaints, that a review of some sort would demonstrate his innocence or non-culpability," Mr Lockyer said. "Well, OK, then do it."

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