Television journalist and former executive producer Shelley Ross alleges in a guest essay for the New York Times that Chris Cuomo sexually harassed her during their tenure at ABC. The alleged incident occurred at a going-away party held for a coworker in 2005.
In the column, Ross writes that current CNN anchor Cuomo wrapped her in a hug and then lowered “one hand to firmly grab and squeeze the cheek of my buttock” before joking that he was allowed to do it now since she was “no longer [his] boss.” After pushing him away, Ross and her husband—who witnessed the alleged misconduct—left the party.
Ross says that Cuomo apologized for his behavior about an hour later. He sent her an email with the subject line “Now that I think of it… I am ashamed.” According to a photo of the email provided by Ross, Cuomo also apologized to her husband. “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 email read.
Upon receiving the email, Ross says she had one glaring question. “Soon after, I received the email from Mr. Cuomo about being ‘ashamed.’ He should have been. But my question today is the same as it was then: Was he ashamed of what he did, or was he embarrassed because my husband saw it?”
Near the end of the column, Ross writes that she decided to share her story not because she wants Cuomo to get booted from his CNN gig, but because she wishes for him to take some accountability. “I have no grudge against Mr. Cuomo; 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.”
“I’m not asking for Mr. Cuomo to become the next casualty in this continuing terrible story,” she adds. “I hope he stays at CNN forever if he chooses. 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.”
In a statement provided to NYT, Cuomo said, “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.”