(Photo: Craig Barritt/Getty Images)

The Los Angeles Times reports NBC News has suspended Game Change author Mark Halperin from his contributor post at MSNBC in the wake of allegations that he sexually harassed employees while at ABC News. CNN spoke with five women who worked with Halperin when he was political director at ABC News, who say he propositioned them for sex, and in one incident, “[kissed] and [grabbed] one’s breasts against her will.” Three of the accusers also say that Halperin “press[ed] an erection” against them, without consent, while they were all clothed.

The five women all spoke under the condition of anonymity, noting that despite no longer working with Halperin, he wields a lot of influence in their industry as a (formerly) sought-after political analyst. They didn’t report Halperin to ABC News’ human resources department (which is common in these cases, unfortunately), something the network was quick to point out to CNN in a statement: “Mark left ABC News over a decade ago, and no complaints were filed during his tenure.”

Halperin, who’s also been on Bloomberg TV and Showtime’s The Circus, has also issued a statement. He denies pressing his genitals against any of his accusers, instead framing his actions as attempts to date his subordinates.

During this period, I did pursue relationships with women that I worked with, including some junior to me. I now understand from these accounts that my behavior was inappropriate and caused others pain. For that, I am deeply sorry and I apologize. Under the circumstances, I’m going to take a step back from my day-to-day work while I properly deal with this situation.

That “step back” came before MSNBC put him on leave. Morning Joe co-host Mika Brzezinski addressed the allegations against Halperin, who was a frequent contributor on her show, early Thursday. She referred to Halperin as a “friend” of the show, and called the sexual harassment claims “unwanted advances and inappropriate behavior,” but promised that Morning Joe would be “following this story as it develops. I’m sure we are going to be talking about it again when we know more about it.”

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