Chris Cuomo Accused of Sexual Harassment by Former ABC Executive Producer

Chris Cuomo has been accused of sexual harassment by a former ABC executive producer after he grabbed her butt in front of her husband and coworkers at a 2005 work party, and later called it a “hearty greeting.”
In a New York Times op-ed published Friday, veteran TV journalist Shelley Ross described the event at an Upper West Side club.
In the aftermath, Cuomo allegedly sent her an email saying he was “ashamed,” but soon moved to distance himself from an actor accused of doing the same thing to a stranger on the street.
Ross said she was working as an executive producer on an ABC entertainment show at the time but had previously worked as Cuomo’s boss on ABC’s Primetime Live.”

“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. 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,” she said.

“I can do this now that you’re no longer my boss,” he said to me with a kind of cocky arrogance. “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.”

On June 1, 2005, Cuomo sent Ross an email with the subject title: “Now that I think of it… I am ashamed.”

He equated his behavior to that of Christian Slater, the actor from Heathers,” who had been arrested a month prior for sexually harassing a lady on a New York City street after touching her buttocks.
Slater’s allegations were eventually dismissed.

“Though my hearty greeting was a function of being glad to see you… 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,” Cuomo wrote.

“So pass along my apology to your very good and noble husband… and I apologize to you as well for ever putting you in such a position. Next time, I will remember the lesson, no matter how happy I am to see you.”

Ross questioned whether Cuomo was ashamed of his behavior or only because her husband witnessed them. She also said Cuomo tried to “legally differentiate” his actions from Slater’s.
“Mr. Cuomo may say this is a sincere apology. I’ve always seen it as an attempt to provide himself with legal and moral coverage to evade accountability,” Ross said.
“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.”
Cuomo said in a statement regarding the allegations: “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.”
Ross said that she did not want Cuomo to lose his job, but in the aftermath of his brother Andrew Cuomo’s sexual harassment issue, she felt he deserved to be held accountable.

The prime-time CNN host was one of a small group of people who advised the disgraced former governor as he attempted to rebuild his career following the attorney general’s explosive report accusing him of sexually harassing 11 women.

In the wake, there were widespread calls for CNN to terminate the younger Cuomo.

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