Shelley Ross says the CNN anchor greeted her at a 2005 party by squeezing her behind, in front of her husband.
Shelley Ross, a former ABC and CNN News executive producer, alleged that Chris Cuomo sexually harassed her while they were working together at ABC, in an opinion column for The New York Times, following his brother's resignation as governor of New York.
In the column, Ross describes Cuomo greeting her at a 2005 work party with a bear hug and then grabbing her buttock in front of her husband.
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Ross served as Cuomo's boss on Primetime Live, but had left the position and became a producer at an entertainment special at the time. “'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," she wrote.
Ross said she believed that Chris had no intention of making a pass at her, his real intent was in asserting authority over her. "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," said Ross.
Shortly after, Cuomo sent her an email in which he apologized to Ross' husband first, and denied that he had any negative intent: "...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...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...," the email read.
Cuomo released a statement in response to 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,” said Chris.
Ross' column comes in the aftermath of Chris defending his brother, Andrew Cuomo, former Gov. of New York, from sexual allegations made by over ten women. Unlike Andrew however, Ross said that she doesn't want Chris, a star NBC news anchor, to lose his job. "I have no grudge against Mr. Cuomo; I’m not looking for him to lose his job," Ross said.
Instead, her intent is for Cuomo to assume accountability, something that she believes he avoided in the email apology.
"I’m not asking for Mr. Cuomo to become the next casualty in this continuing terrible story. I hope he stays at CNN forever if he chooses. I would, however, like to see him 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..., Ross said. "Call it “The Continuing Education of Chris Cuomo” and make this a watershed moment instead of another stain on the career of one more powerful male news anchor."