SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) — A television producer who was CNN anchor Chris Cuomo’s former boss has come forward with an allegation of sexual harassment.
Shelley Ross, who was an executive producer at ABC News at the time, said the incident happened nearly 20 years ago, and she’s not sharing the experience to get him fired.
Rather, she wants to see Cuomo respond with impactful journalism that educates his ‘”Cuomo Prime Time” viewers (and himself) on sexism in the workplace.
In a New York Times guest essay, Ross details the time Cuomo allegedly grabbed her buttocks during a going-away party for a colleague. She was there with her husband and work friends.
“When Mr. Cuomo entered the Upper West Side bar, 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. “I can do this now that you’re no longer my boss,” he said to me with a kind of cocky arrogance.”Excerpt from ‘Chris Cuomo Sexually Harassed Me. I Hope He’ll Use His Power to Make Change’ (NYT)
In response, Ross said she responded, “No you can’t,” and quickly left the party with her husband. Later, Cuomo sent her an email with an apology.
“I never thought that Mr. Cuomo’s behavior was sexual in nature. 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,” Ross said in the NYT essay.
She goes on to say that covert sexual harassment at the workplace persists, and she wants to see Chris address it through his show.
“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 writes.
The story comes weeks after Cuomo’s brother, former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, was forced to resign after an investigation by the state’s attorney general that found he sexually harassed at least 11 women.
Chris Cuomo has been in the hot seat ever since, with his journalistic ethics questioned since he was found to also have advised his brother as the women were coming forward. One email chain apparently showed Chris Cuomo telling his brother “to express contrition” in his response.
Even after the attorney general’s findings, Chris Cuomo has kept his chair on CNN, although he had previously said he would stop having his brother on his show amid the initial sexual harassment accusations. Chris Cuomo excused himself by saying he was helping as a brother not as an official advisor.
Chris Cuomo has responded to Ross’ allegation, which was published with the essay. He acknowledged that it happened and that he apologized for it 16 years ago.