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The Cable News Network was finally forced to terminate top-rated host Chris Cuomo after network executives learned about an alleged sexual attack during an office “lunch,” according to a Tuesday report.
According to The New York Times, Cuomo allegedly attacked a female ABC News temporary staffer after she turned down his proposition for sex.
CNN attorneys were made aware of the allegations in December just hours after Cuomo was initially suspended for not being straightforward with network executives about advising then-New York Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo, his brother, on how to evade his own sex harassment allegations.
Chris Cuomo was then fired just days later.
The accuser, who was not named in the Times report, came forward after CNN suspended Cuomo Nov. 30 for advising his brother who was attempting to fight back against the multiple sexual harassment allegations that eventually forced him to resign.
“Jane Doe” long had been disgusted by the similarities between Gov. Cuomo’s accusers and the situation she allegedly endured, according to employment lawyer Debra Katz.
The New York Post reports further:
Chris Cuomo, 51, had invited the “young” worker to his office for lunch on the pretext of giving her advice on obtaining full-time employment at the network in 2011, according to the report.
When the woman arrived, there was no food, and the anchor badgered her for sex, the letter sent to CNN lawyers on Dec. 1 reportedly said.
When she declined his advance, he reportedly attacked her, the letter alleged.
Five years later, as #MeToo accusations surrounded news anchors like Charlie Rose and Matt Lauer, Chris Cuomo contacted his accuser to do a flattering piece about her then-employer, according to the article.
Contacting her was an attempt to “‘test the waters’ and discourage her from going on the record about his sexual misconduct,” Katz reportedly wrote.
Several friends and co-workers reportedly said that the accuser told them Cuomo had made the unwanted passes, the Times reported.
In an interview with the Times, the accuser said she was “haunted” by the similarities between what she had experienced with Chris Cuomo and the accusers who leveled accusations against his brother, Gov. Cuomo, and she soon hired an attorney.
The woman was “deeply traumatized,” and would remain anonymous so she could not become “a pawn in an internecine war between [Jeff] Zucker, Chris Cuomo and CNN,” Katz reportedly wrote in the letter to CNN, which then resulted in his immediate firing from the network.
Since then, Zucker has also resigned as has his love interest and longtime associate, Allison Gollust, while CNN’s ratings continue to tank.
The Times added:
By the time of Mr. Cuomo’s ouster, the law firm that had been hired to investigate his behavior had turned its attention to Mr. Zucker and his management of a network where his intimacy with sources and employees had been both his calling card and Achilles’ heel.
Mr. Zucker’s abrupt departure has thrown the future of CNN into chaos, just as it was poised to introduce a highly anticipated streaming service and to come under new corporate ownership.
Mr. Cuomo is hoping to extract tens of millions of dollars from CNN. Star anchors are revolting. Employees are wondering whether, without Mr. Zucker at the helm, the network’s soon-to-be-owners at Discovery Inc. will fundamentally change CNN’s sprawling news operations.
“Jeff was never aware of the full extent of what Chris Cuomo was doing for his brother, which is why Chris was fired,” Risa Heller, a spokeswoman for Zucker, told the paper.
Steven Goldberg, a spokesman for the fired host, added: “Mr. Cuomo felt very close personally and professionally to Mr. Zucker, which is part of what makes this so difficult and hurtful.”