A television executive who accused Chris Cuomo of groping her at a party 16 years ago said the CNN anchor needs a public education about sexual harassment and if he did that, “he’d be a hero instead of a cad.”
Former ABC executive Shelley Ross said on Friday that she is concerned that Cuomo’s reaction to her story and his role advising his brother, former New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, indicates that he has learned little about harassment and what it does to women.
“I don’t want to see anybody lose their job,” Ross told The Associated Press. “I want to see people learn and to make the news business a better place and the workplace a better place.”
Her story represented another embarrassment for the host of Cuomo Prime Time, generally the network’s top-rated show. He has been criticized for his role advising his brother, Andrew Cuomo, who resigned as New York governor last month over allegations of sexual harassment from multiple women.
Chris Cuomo did not address the matter on his show on Friday night.
Ross said in an opinion piece in The New York Times on Friday that Chris Cuomo had greeted her at a going-away party in 2005 with a bear hug “while lowering one hand to firmly grab and squeeze the cheek of my buttock.”
Ross said Chris Cuomo told her: “I can do this now that you’re no longer my boss,” and she responded: “No you can’t,” pushing him off while stepping back to reveal her husband, who saw the whole thing.
In an interview, Ross called it an attempt to diminish and belittle a female executive in front of her staff.
Chris Cuomo sent an apologetic e-mail to Ross shortly afterward saying that he was “ashamed.”
Asked for comment, Chris Cuomo told the Times: “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.”
CNN had no additional comment on Friday.
“There was no interaction,” said Ross, former executive producer of the newsmagazine Primetime Live. “An interaction has a premise that two people are involved in something. I did not want to be groped.”
“I didn’t know if he had changed from the years we worked together,” she said. “And I see from the response that he hasn’t.”
Chris Cuomo took a scheduled day off on Friday from his SiriusXM radio show, the service said. CNN referred reporters to Chris Cuomo’s statement to the newspaper.
Ross said in her essay in the Times that Chris Cuomo should have been ashamed for his conduct with her.
“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?” she asked.
She suggested a series of town hall meetings titled “The Continuing Education of Chris Cuomo.”
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