Journalist Shelley Ross accused CNN anchor Chris Cuomo of sexual harassing her at a party in 2005, in an op-ed in the New York Times published Friday morning.
Ross wrote that Cuomo grabbed her buttocks at a going-away party for a colleague at ABC, in the presence of her husband. Up until shortly before the incident, Ross was Cuomo’s executive producer at ABC’s Primetime Live.
Cuomo “greeted me with a strong bear hug while lowering one hand to firmly grab and squeeze the cheek of my buttock,” Ross wrote in the op-ed. “‘I can do this now that you’re no longer my boss,’ [Cuomo] said to me with a kind of cocky arrogance. ‘No you can’t,’ I said, pushing him off me at the chest.”
Ross provided a screenshot of an email Cuomo allegedly sent after the incident, whose subject line reads “now that i think of it…i am ashamed.”
“christian slater got arrested for a (kind of) similar act (though borne of an alleged negative intent, unlike my own),” Cuomo wrote. “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.”
Actor Christian Slater was arrested in May 2005 for allegedly groping a woman’s butt while intoxicated, although the charges were later dropped.
Ross’s allegation comes several months after Cuomo apologized for advising his brother, former New York governor Andrew Cuomo, on how to deal with allegations of sexual harassment. Chris Cuomo had participated in strategy calls with the former governor and his aides, the Washington Post reported.
“When my brother’s situation became turbulent, being looped into calls with other friends of his and advisors that did include some of his staff, I understand why that was a problem for CNN,” Cuomo said during his show on CNN. “It will not happen again.”
Cuomo was also involved in drafting a statement for the former governor released on February 28 defending against allegations of harassment, according to New York attorney general Letitia James’s report on the allegations.
Ross wrote that she didn’t consider Cuomo’s 2005 action “sexual in nature,” but as a “hostile act” intended to “belittle his female former boss.”
“As Shelley acknowledges, our interaction was not sexual in nature,” Cuomo told the Times. “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.”
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