Chris Cuomo accused of sexual harassment by his former boss at ABC

Chris Cuomo holds a landline phone to his ear, looking off to his left.
CNN host Chris Cuomo. Donald Bowers/Getty Images
  • Shelley Ross, a veteran TV journalist, accused CNN’s Chris Cuomo of sexual harassment on Friday.
  • Ross was Cuomo’s boss at ABC up until shortly before a 2005 incident at a Manhattan bar.
  • She said he groped her rear during a hug. Cuomo acknowledged the episode but called it “not sexual.”
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

CNN host Chris Cuomo has been accused of sexually harassing a former colleague, who described the alleged encounter in a New York Times op-ed on Friday.

Cuomo was accused by Shelley Ross, a TV journalist who was once Cuomo’s boss at ABC.

It came not long after Cuomo’s brother, former New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, resigned following sexual-harassment allegations from 11 women.

In the Times article, Ross described being groped by Cuomo during a hug as the two met at a bar not long after she had stopped being his boss.

In a statement to The Times, Cuomo acknowledged that the encounter took place, but he described it as “not sexual.”

He wrote: “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.”

Insider has contacted CNN and Cuomo for comment.

In her Times article, Ross wrote that she was at a work event with her husband at an unnamed bar on Manhattan’s Upper West Side during the encounter with Cuomo.

“When Mr. Cuomo entered the Upper West Side bar,” she said, “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.”

Ross added that he said, “‘I can do this now that you’re no longer my boss.”

She said that she responded, “No you can’t,” pushed him away, and then left the bar.

The Times published an image of an email from Cuomo dated June 1, 2005, in which he described himself as “ashamed” and apologized.

Ross said she received the email one hour after Cuomo sexually harassed her at a going-away party for an ABC colleague.

“Now that I think of it … I am ashamed,” Cuomo wrote in the subject line of the email.

In the email, sent from his work email address, Cuomo apologized first to Ross’ husband and then to her.

The email, punctuated with ellipses, said:

“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 even putting you in such a position…

“next time, i will remember the lesson, no matter how happy i am to see you…”

Ross wrote that she “never thought that Mr. Cuomo’s behavior was sexual in nature,” but still described the encounter as “sexual harassment,” which she called “a hostile act meant to diminish and belittle his female former boss in front of the staff.”

At another point in her article, Ross said that she has “no grudge” against Cuomo said she doesn’t want CNN to fire him.

She instead asked for him to “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.”

Cuomo’s full response to The Times said: “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.”