Chris Cuomo Accused Of Sexual Harassment By Former Boss

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A former ABC producer accused primetime CNN anchor Chris Cuomo of sexually assaulting her in 2005.

Shelley Ross penned an op-ed for the New York Times accusing Cuomo, now 51, of touching her inappropriately during a going-away party for a former ABC News colleague at a bar, which her husband also attended.

Ross said Cuomo "greeted me with a strong bear hug while lowering one hand to firmly grab and squeeze the cheek of my buttock."

Ross accuses Cuomo of saying, "I can do this now that you're no longer my boss" while grabbing her, to which she responded, "No you can't" while "pushing him off me at the chest while stepping back, revealing my husband, who had seen the entire episode at close range," according to the op-ed, adding that she and her husband "quickly left" after the alleged interaction with Cuomo.

Ross said Cuomo sent her an email hours later stating "Now that I think of it ... I am ashamed," and apoligized for "even putting you in such a position."

"I never thought that Mr. Cuomo's behavior was sexual in nature," Ross wrote in the New York Times op-ed. "Whether he understood it at the time or not, his form of sexual harassment was a hostile act meant to diminish and belittle his female former boss in front of the staff."

A representative for Cuomo provided the following statement from the CNN anchor to PEOPLE Magazine: "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."

Ross said she had "no grudge" against Cuomo and wasn't intending to make him "lose his job," but instead wanted him to take "accountability" in lieu of reportedly assisting his brother, former New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, in his response similar allegtions prior to his resignation earlier this year.

"I'm not asking for Mr. Cuomo to become the next casualty in this continuing terrible story. I hope he stays at CNN forever if he chooses," Ross wrote. "I would, however, like to see him journalistically repent: Agree on air to study the impact of sexism, harassment and gender bias in the workplace, including his own, and then report on it. He could host a series of live town hall meetings, with documentary footage, produced by women with expert consultants. Call it 'The Continuing Education of Chris Cuomo' and make this a watershed moment instead of another stain on the career of one more powerful male news anchor."

In May, CNN said it was "inappropriate" for Chris Cuomo to involve himself in phone calls with the staff of his brother pertaining to strategies on the former governor's response to sexual harassment allegations.

Chris Cuomo, how had not been involved in the network's coverage of the allegations at the time, also referred to his involvement in the calls as "a mistake" during his primetime news show in May.

In August, a former executive assistant to Andrew Cuomo filed a criminal complaint against the former New York governor after previously going public with allegations of sexual harassment.

NBC News reported the woman, identified in a recent report from New York State Attorney General Letitia James as "Executive Assistant # 1," filed the complaint with the Albany County Sheriff's Office on August 5, a spokesperson for the sheriff confirmed.

The content for the complaint was not made public and Gov. Cuomo has not received criminal charges, NBC News reported.

On August 3, The New York Times obtained the 165-page report accusing Cuomo, a third-term Democrat governor, and his aids of creating a toxic work environment in which his office commonly used fear and intimidation tactics to enable “harassment to occur and created a hostile work environment,” according to state attorney general Letitia James.

In the report, "Executive Assistant #1" is reported to have been the victim of "a pattern of inappropriate conduct" by Cuomo beginning in late 2019.

"That pattern of conduct included: (1) close and intimate hugs; (2) kisses on the cheeks, forehead, and at least one kiss on the lips; (3) touching and grabbing of Executive Assistant #1’s butt during hugs and, on one occasion, while taking selfies with him; and (4) comments and jokes by the Governor about Executive Assistant #1’s personal life and relationships," the report said, resulting in a November 2020 incident at the governor's mansion, where the accuser said she'd been summoned by Cuomo.

James referred to revelations made in the report as "a deeply disturbing, yet clear picture” of the governor's office and “conduct that corrodes the very fabric and character of our state government and shine lights on injustice that can be present at the highest levels of government.”

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