Chris Cuomo accused of grabbing ex-boss's buttock in bar while he was ABC anchor

Shelley Ross, former executive producer at ABC and CBS, recalled that Cuomo told her, 'I can do this now that you're no longer my boss'


                            Chris Cuomo accused of grabbing ex-boss's buttock in bar while he was ABC anchor
Chris Cuomo was the anchor at ABC's 'Primetime Live' (Photo by Donald Bowers/Getty Images for Cantor Fitzgerald)
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An ex-boss of Chris Cuomo has accused him of sexual harassment. Shelley Ross, the former executive producer at ABC and CBS, has alleged that Cuomo squeezed her buttocks in a bar before apologizing for it in an email. In an op-ed for the New York Times, Ross wrote, “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.”

The alleged incident reportedly happened in 2005 when the television producer had recently switched jobs from being an executive producer at ABC's 'Primetime Live' to becoming the executive producer of an ABC entertainment special. Also, at that time, Chris was the anchor at ABC's 'Primetime Live'. Recalling the episode, the 51-year-old journalist Shelley Ross said Chris “with a kind of cocky arrogance,” told her, “I can do this now that you're no longer my boss.”

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Ross continued, “‘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.” But an hour later, Chris emailed her while apologizing for his behavior. The subject line of the mail sent on June 1, 2005, read, “Now that I think of it… I am ashamed,” before starting with, “though my hearty greeting was a function of being glad to see you…”

He had also stated, “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...next time, i will remember the lesson, no matter how happy i am to see you…”

Ross, though, cast doubt on Chris’s intention behind the apology in her op-ed. She asked if the TV personality, who is Andrew Cuomo’s brother, was “ashamed” of “what he did, or was he embarrassed because my husband saw it?”

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“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,” she added. Ross also noted that by comparing the incident with Slater, he was trying “to legally differentiate the two incidents.” She stated: “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.”

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Chris Cuomo attends the 12th Annual CNN Heroes: An All-Star Tribute at American Museum of Natural History on December 09, 2018, in New York City (Photo by Dominik Bindl/Getty Images)

 

In her piece, Ross also mentioned that she has now spoken about the alleged incident years later after watching Chris' response to the sexual harassment scandal that engulfed his brother, who was the governor of New York before stepping down in August. She pointed out, “Given Mr. Cuomo’s role as a supporter of and counselor to his brother, I am left again wondering about his relationship with truth and accountability. Has this man always cared ‘deeply’ and ‘profoundly’ about sexual harassment issues? Does he believe enough in accountability to step up and take some meaningful actions?”

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New York Governor Andrew Cuomo declares a state of emergency Tuesday due to the ongoing violence on July 06, 2021, in New York City.The new declaration by Cuomo will come with millions of dollars for gun and violence prevention programs across the state. The governor also announced that he will be signing a law that bars individuals with active warrants from buying a gun in the state of New York. Over the July 4th holiday weekend, 51 people were shot in New York. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Meanwhile, Chris has spoken up after Ross’ op-ed was published. He stated, “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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