CNN‘s Chris Cuomo is accused of sexual harassment by his former ABC boss who
says he squeezed her buttock upon greeting her in a bar 16 years ago – but apologized
for his ‘shame’ later
Shelley Ross, the former executive producer at ABC and CBS, penned an op-ed for the
New York Times detailing the alleged incident at a going-away party for an ABC
colleague back in 2005.
Ross, who has spoken out in the past about being sexually harassed by a serial
predator Roger Ailes, said Cuomo gave her a ‘bear hug’ in the bar and grabbed and
squeezed her buttock.
Cuomo, whose brother Andrew Cuomo resigned as governor of New York over a flurry
of sexual harassment allegations last month, later sent her an email apologizing for
his actions, she said.
The CNN anchor has not denied the allegations, telling the Times Thursday ‘it
happened 16 years ago and ‘was not sexual in nature.’
‘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,’ he said.
‘I apologized to her then, and I meant it.’
At the time of the alleged incident, Ross had recently moved jobs from executive
producer at ABC’s ‘Primetime Live’ – where Cuomo was an anchor – to becoming
the executive producer of an ABC entertainment special.
Ross said Cuomo explained his actions away on the night as being okay because she
was ‘no longer my boss.’
‘I was at the party with my husband, who sat behind me on an ottoman sipping his
Diet Coke as I spoke with work friends,’ she wrote in the op-ed.
‘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.’
Cuomo told her ‘I can do this now that you’re no longer my boss,’ she claimed, adding
that it was said ‘with a kind of cocky arrogance.
Ross said she pushed Cuomo away from her, with her husband witnessing what had
”No you can’t,’ I said, pushing him off me at the chest while stepping back, revealing
my husband, who had seen the entire episode at close range. We quickly left,’ she
Ross said she received an email from Cuomo one hour later telling her she was
‘ashamed’ of his behavior.
The email, dated June 1, 2005, first apologized to Ross’s ‘very good and noble
husband’ for having to witness his wife ‘patted as such’ – and apologized to her second.
‘Now that I think of it… I am ashamed,’ read the subject line of the email.
‘though my hearty greeting was a function of being glad to see you…,’ the email
Cuomo then went on to compare his actions to that of Hollywood actor Christian
Slater, who one month earlier had been arrested for allegedly randomly grabbing a
woman’s buttocks while she was walking through a street in Manhattan, New York
Slater was charged with third-degree sexual abuse but the charges were later dropped.
‘Christian Slater got arrested for a (kind of) similar act (though borne of an alleged
negative intent, unlike my own)…and as a husband, I can empathize with not liking to
see my wife patted as such…,’ the email read.
‘so 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…
He closed out the email with: ‘next time, I will remember the lesson, no matter how
happy I am to see you…’
In her op-ed, Ross said she questioned whether Cuomo was ‘ashamed’ of ‘what he did,
or was he embarrassed because my husband saw it?’