NEW YORK – The son accused of betraying a New York icon defended himself publicly for the first time Thursday, denying allegations that he has been abusing and neglecting his mother.

“I am shocked and deeply hurt by the allegations against me, which are completely untrue,” Anthony Marshall said in a statement that he and his wife, Charlene, handed out to reporters camped out in front of his Manhattan apartment building.

“I love my mother and no one cares more about her than I do,” Marshall said. “Her well-being, her comfort and her dignity mean everything to me.”

Marshall, 82, is accused of committing “elder abuse” against his 104-year-old mother, Brooke Astor – allegations first revealed by the New York Daily News.

After visiting his mother at Lenox Hill Hospital on Thursday night, Marshall told reporters he was “touched and encouraged that my mother’s present state of age has brought attention to news for care of elderly people.”

“This was a gift my mother was giving without knowing it, to bring attention to the question of elderly people. My mother always spearheaded a problem within the New York community or throughout the nation. I’m happy that she can still do what she did for the foundation for years, even if she doesn’t know it.”

A lawsuit filed by Marshall’s own son, Philip Marshall, and supported by Henry Kissinger, David Rockefeller and Annette de la Renta, seeks to remove him from controlling the assets of Astor, who is among New York’s greatest philanthropists.

A judge this week appointed de la Renta as Astor’s temporary personal guardian, and JPMorgan Chase bank to oversee her $45 million fortune.

“While I appreciate the many expressions of concern for my mother’s well-being, I regret that a number of well-intentioned people have been misled and misinformed about this situation,” Anthony Marshall said in his statement.

“I have always taken good care of my mother, including overseeing annual expenditures of over $2.5 million for her care and comfort alone. My mother has a staff of eight with instructions to provide her with whatever she needs and whatever they think she should have.

“I am very troubled that allegations like these would first be made in a court petition, instead of discussing any concerns with me directly,” he said.

Meanwhile, a spokesman for de la Renta said Astor, who was recently admitted to Lenox Hill, is improving.

“Ms. Astor is in stable condition as we speak,” said spokesman Fraser Seitel.

Seitel said that de la Renta “has visited her regularly” at the hospital and that Rockefeller has visited Astor as well.

“What the family and the friends are most concerned about is that she is stable,” he said.

Once de la Renta was appointed temporary personal guardian, Astor’s quality of life changed dramatically.

She was immediately brought to Lenox Hill, where an attending nurse said her appearance was “deplorable.”

Philip Marshall, who lives in South Dartmouth, Mass., accused his father of everything from buying diluted medicines to refusing to pay for nonskid socks or a bed equipped with rails – even though Astor had fallen from her bed.

Philip Marshall is a professor in the historic preservation program, School of Architecture, Art & Historic Preservation, at Roger Williams University in Rhode Island.

Friday, lawyers for The News and other media will ask Manhattan Supreme Court Justice John Stackhouse to unseal the court file.

The filing, which includes affidavits from de la Renta, Rockefeller and Kissinger – as well as several nurses and household aides – was sealed Wednesday morning after The News broke the story.

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