Chris Cuomo faced assault allegation before CNN departure: report
New details about the sexual misconduct allegations made against former CNN anchor Chris Cuomo before his firing from the network came to light Tuesday, at the same time the company announced another top executive at the cable news company had been ousted.
As part of a wide-ranging report laying out the timeline of how accusations against Cuomo’s brother, former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D), led to the anchor’s firing and network President Jeff Zucker’s resignation, the The New York Times reported CNN’s lawyers in December received a letter from an attorney for a woman claiming Chris Cuomo had sexually assaulted her years ago.
The woman, who was not named in the letter, said in 2011 when she and Cuomo both worked at ABC News, the anchor invited her to his office for lunch.
The woman alleges that during the meeting, Cuomo badgered her for sex, and after she declined, he assaulted her and she ran out of the room, the Times reported after speaking with five friends and former colleagues who said the woman told them about the alleged incident.
Cuomo, through representatives, has denied the woman’s allegations.
The Times also reported on Tuesday that Debra Katz, a prominent attorney, wrote in the same letter to CNN on the woman’s behalf that Cuomo had contacted the woman during the height of the “Me Too” movement and proposed arranging a CNN segment about the company where she worked doing public relations.
“After years without any substantive communication from Mr. Cuomo whatsoever, Ms. Doe suspected he was concerned about her coming forward publicly with her allegations and wanted to use the proposed segment as an opportunity to ‘test the waters’ and discourage her from going on the record about his sexual misconduct,” Katz wrote.
The allegations of sexual misconduct made by the woman against Cuomo were first reported by news outlets in December, soon after Cuomo’s firing.
Also on Tuesday, CNN’s parent company WarnerMedia told staff an internal investigation found Zucker, Cuomo and top marketing executive Allison Gollust violated company policies while with the network.
The company did not provide specifics on which policies were violated and how.
Zucker resigned last month after revealing he had been having a romantic relationship with Gollust that he did not report to the company, as is required.
Gollust slammed WarnerMedia in a statement late Wednesday, accusing the company of “an attempt to retaliate against me and change the media narrative in the wake of their disastrous handling of the last two weeks.”
A representative for Zucker told the Times the former CNN president “was never aware of the full extent of what Chris Cuomo was doing for his brother, which is why Chris was fired.”
Cuomo, who is reportedly seeking a multimillion-dollar settlement from the company after his firing, in a statement to The Wall Street Journal through a spokesperson late Wednesday pressed WarnerMedia to release details of the internal investigation his scandal sparked.
“It is clear this was never about an undisclosed relationship,” the statement read. “As Mr. Cuomo has stated previously, Mr. Zucker and Ms. Gollust were not only entirely aware but fully supportive of what he was doing to help his brother. The still open question is when Warner Media is going to release the results of its investigation and explain its supposed basis for terminating Mr. Cuomo.”
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