Sexual harassment allegations derailed the career of one Cuomo. A new allegation threatens to do the same to another. In a New York Times essay, Chris Cuomo's former boss at ABC News says the CNN host sexually harassed her in 2005 when both attended a colleague's going-away party at an Upper West Side bar. TV journalist Shelley Ross says she had just transitioned from Cuomo's executive producer at Primetime Live to executive producer of an entertainment special when Cuomo "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 "with a kind of cocky arrogance," Ross writes. "No you can't," she says she responded before leaving the bar with her husband, who'd witnessed the encounter. She adds she received an email from Cuomo that night, in which he said he was "ashamed" and apologized first to her husband and then to her. The email noted Christian Slater had been arrested for similar conduct, though Cuomo differentiated himself from Slater, claiming he had no "negative intent," Ross writes. She points out that as a former lawyer, Cuomo "appeared to use his short apology to legally differentiate the two incidents."
His assurance earlier this year—as he came under fire for counselling his brother, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, during his sexual harassment scandal—that "I have always cared very deeply about these issues and profoundly so" was a "provocation," Ross adds. She writes that she doesn't want Cuomo fired from CNN but hopes he uses his platform to "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 to the Times, Cuomo says his behavior toward Ross was "not sexual in nature," as she herself acknowledges in her piece. "I apologized to her then, and I meant it," he adds. It was still sexual harassment, writes Ross: "His form of sexual harassment was a hostile act meant to diminish and belittle his female former boss in front of the staff." (Read her full piece.)