A bombshell report from the New York Times claims that after the Cuomo Prime Time host, 51, was suspended for unethical interactions with his brother, former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, CNN received a legal letter accusing the newsman of sexual assault when he worked at ABC News. That sealed his fate, the outlet claims.
A spokesperson for Chris tells Yahoo Entertainment that the sexual allegation is “false.”
According to the story, Chris Cuomo was told by Jeff Zucker, now former president of CNN Worldwide, on Nov. 30 that he was suspended over the claims related to his politician brother. Chris was accused of using media sources to get dirt on women accusing his brother of sexual harassment. During the conversation, at which CNN’s now former chief marketing officer — and Zucker’s secret girlfriend — Allison Gollust was present, Chris offered to resign. Zucker, who apparently had a friendly relationship with him, said not to, as he may be able to return to his post at some point.
Less than 24 hours later, high-profile attorney Debra S. Katz sent a letter to CNN attorney David Vigilante alleging that Chris Cuomo sexually assaulted her client, a woman who worked with him at ABC News, in 2011. Katz also claimed that at the height of the #MeToo movement, Chris demonstrated an “abuse of power at CNN” by attempting to “silence my client” by arranging a flattering CNN segment about her employer at that time.
The woman, referred to as Jane Doe, was a young temporary ABC employee hoping for a full-time job. Chris, an anchor, offered her career advice and invited her to lunch in his office. When she arrived for lunch, there was no food. She claimed Chris instead badgered her for sex and, after she refused, assaulted her.
The woman, who fled the room after the alleged assault, was interviewed about the assault and provided email exchanges between herself and Chris, who has been married to wife Cristina since 2001. The news outlet interviewed five friends and former colleagues who said the woman told them Chris made made unwelcome sexual requests.
The woman claimed that then years later, at the height of #MeToo when TV news personalities Matt Lauer and Charlie Rose lost their jobs over sexual misconduct allegations, Chris contacted her out of the blue. He offered a CNN segment about the company where she worked doing public relations. It claimed she tried to avoid contact with Chris, but CNN broadcast a segment anyway.
“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’s letter to CNN stated.
A meeting was set for Dec. 3 for Katz — a civil rights and whistleblower lawyer who also represents one of Andrew Cuomo’s sexual harassment accusers as well as Christine Blasey Ford — to hand over evidence to substantiate the woman’s claims. Just prior to that, Zucker fired Chris. Zucker reportedly told Chris that the series of scandals became “too much for us.” Zucker also apparently felt “misled” by him.
Chris’s spokesperson, in addition to denying the sexual assault allegation, says CNN never gave him an opportunity to respond to Doe’s allegations. Here is his entire statement: “As Mr. Cuomo has stated previously, the allegations in the anonymous letter are false. He was never asked about the allegations prior to being terminated nor given an opportunity to respond to the allegations.”
Chris is taking legal action over his ouster. That has led to Zucker being fired from the company’s top spot earlier this month after he failed to disclose his personal relationship with Gollust.
At the time Zucker stepped down, it was said that Gollust would stay with the company. However, on Tuesday, she was forced to resign as well. The company said that she, as well as Chris and Zucker, violated company policies.
Since Chris’s firing from CNN, veteran TV producer Shelley Ross has accused him of sexual misconduct. She alleged that he grabbed her buttock at a 2005 event when she was his boss at ABC. Ross had an email Chris sent apologizing for the incident.