In an opinion essay published in the New York Times on Friday, former ABC executive producer Shelley Ross accused CNN primetime host Chris Cuomo of sexual harassing her in 2005. The accusation against the younger Cuomo comes after his older brother, the former governor of New York, resigned following a state investigation that found he sexually harassed 11 women in various ways.
Ross wrote in the Times that she had been socializing with work friends while at a party in an upper west side bar when Cuomo entered, greeting Ross with a hug before dropping one hand to “firmly squeeze” her butt.
“I can do this now that you’re no longer my boss,” Cuomo allegedly said.
“No you can’t,” Ross said she responded.
Later that night, Cuomo sent an apology email to her and her husband. A copy of that email, which Cuomo acknowledges to be real, is included in her opinion piece. The subject line was “now that i think of it…i am ashamed…”
Cuomo told Ross that his greeting was a “function of being glad to see [her]” and said he had no negative intent in making the move. He said he was sorry “for even putting [her] in such a position” and passed along an apology to her husband as well.
To close out his email, Cuomo promised to “remember the lesson, no matter how happy i am to see you.”
In a response to the NYT article Cuomo left with the newspaper on Thursday, he described the encounter as non-sexual and reiterated his apologetic stance.
“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.”
Cuomo has previously come under fire for assisting his brother in publicly addressing the sexual assault allegations against him. A report by the Attorney General’s Office of New York says he was an “ongoing and regular” contributor to discussions about how to respond to the allegations, and reportedly urged the politician to be defiant, not resign, and express remorse.
Cuomo has previously apologized for being on strategy calls with his brother and staff, telling viewers “It will not happen again. It was a mistake.”
CNN, where Cuomo hosts his weekly show, called those conversations “inappropriate” and said their employee would refrain from engaging in any more of them.