CNN’s Chris Cuomo is accused of sexual harassment in a new guest essay published by The New York Times.
Shelley Ross, a veteran television journalist and former executive producer who served as Cuomo’s EP on ABC’s Primetime Live, alleges that Cuomo sexually harassed her at a going-away party for an ABC colleague in June 2005.
“He walked toward me and greeted me with a strong bear hug while lowering one hand to firmly grab and squeeze the cheek of my buttock,” Ross writes. He allegedly said to her, “I can do this now that you’re no longer my boss,” at which point she pushed him off of her and replied, “No you can’t,” before leaving the party with her husband, who had witnessed the encounter.
In addition to the allegations, the essay includes a scan of the printed email Cuomo sent Ross an hour after the harassment occurred, with the subject line: “now that i think of it…i am ashamed….” In the email, Cuomo refers to the way he groped Ross as a “hearty greeting,” and “a function of being glad to see you.” He goes on to say that “as a husband i can empathize with not liking to see my wife patted as such… so pass along my apology to your very good and noble husband… and I apologize to you as well, for even putting you in such a position.”
The essay also includes a recent statement by Cuomo, which reads: “As Shelley acknowledges, our interaction was not sexual in nature. It happened 16 years ago in a public setting when she was a top executive at ABC. I apologized to her then, and I meant it.”
TVLine has reached out to Cuomo’s representatives and CNN for comment.
In the essay, Ross writes that she never considered Cuomo’s behavior to be “sexual in nature.” But nevertheless, “his form of sexual harassment was a hostile act meant to diminish and belittle his female former boss in front of the staff.
“I have no grudge against Mr. Cuomo,” she maintains. “I’m not looking for him to lose his job. Rather, this is an opportunity for him and his employer to show what accountability can look like in the #MeToo era.”
The allegation against Cuomo comes one month after his brother Andrew Cuomo, who had served as the governor of New York since 2011, announced his resignation after multiple women came forward to accuse him of behavior including sexual harassment, sexism and the creation of a toxic work environment.
As the initial allegations against the governor surfaced earlier this year, Chris Cuomo stated on Cuomo Prime Time that although other CNN journalists would report on the accusations, he would not, citing a conflict of interest. But in May, The Washington Post reported that Chris had participated in strategy calls with Gov. Cuomo and senior members of his staff regarding how the governor should respond to allegations against him, with multiple sources claiming that Chris advised his brother not to resign from office. Though CNN opted not to discipline Chris at the time, the network acknowledged in a statement that “it was inappropriate to engage in conversations that included members of the governor’s staff,” and Chris said in an on-air apology that “it will not happen again.”
Upon his brother’s resignation in August, Cuomo told viewers that he urged the governor to resign, but remained defiant regarding any conflicts of interest.