Chris Cuomo’s former ABC boss Shelley Ross on Friday publicly accused him of sexually harassing her 16 years ago by grabbing her buttocks at a work party in front of her husband and co-workers.
In a scathing New York Times op-ed, the veteran TV journalist ripped the CNN star over accountability in the wake of the 2005 incident and his actions amid his brother Andrew Cuomo’s sexual harassment scandal this year.
Here are the most damning excerpts from Ross’ op-ed:
Ross says the incident occurred in June 2005 at a work party on the Upper West Side.
“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.
“’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.”
Cuomo’s ‘ashamed’ apology email
Ross says she received an email from Cuomo after she left the party.
“The email read: ‘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.
“’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.’”
Apology was Cuomo’s way of ‘evading accountability’
“Soon after, I received the email from Mr. Cuomo about being ‘ashamed.’ He should have been. But my question today is the same as it was then: Was he ashamed of what he did, or was he embarrassed because my husband saw it? (He apologized first in his email to my ‘very good and noble husband’ and then to me for ‘even putting you in such a position.’)
“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.”
Cuomo’s ‘truth’ T-shirt amid his brother’s scandal
“This year, as he escaped accountability for advising former Gov. Andrew Cuomo during his sexual harassment scandal, two moments crystallized for me how Mr. Cuomo performs.
“The first was on March 1, two days before Governor Cuomo publicly addressed the sexual harassment allegations made against him by three women and apologized for acting ‘in a way that made people feel uncomfortable’ but denied touching anyone inappropriately. On ‘Cuomo Prime Time,’ Mr. Cuomo explained to his CNN viewers that because of the sexual harassment scandal, he would no longer be covering or interviewing his brother, as he frequently did during the first Covid-19 surge. With an expression of great sincerity, he said, ‘I have always cared very deeply about these issues and profoundly so. I just wanted to tell you that.’
“The second moment came this Labor Day weekend, after Governor Cuomo had resigned and as his loyal confidants and outside advisers were losing their own influential jobs in the fallout. There was Mr. Cuomo in the Hamptons, appearing in a photo wearing a T-shirt emblazoned with the word ‘Truth.’
“For me, his statement of profound concern about sexual harassment and his ‘Truth’ T-shirt were provocations in this era of personal accountability.”
‘No grudge’ against Cuomo
“I have no grudge against Mr. Cuomo; I’m not looking for him to lose his job. Rather, this is an opportunity for him and his employer to show what accountability can look like in the #MeToo era.”
Cuomo’s response to op-ed
“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.”
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