Chris Cuomo was reportedly fired from CNN after a secret ‘assault’ allegation was made against him by a woman he allegedly ‘badgered for sex’ when he worked at ABC News.
The New York Times reported on Tuesday that a lawyer representing a woman who had worked with Cuomo years earlier at ABC News claimed the anchor had sexually assaulted her in 2011, but that years later, in the heat of the #MeToo movement, the CNN network host allegedly attempted to keep her quiet by arranging a flattering CNN segment about her employer at the time. It’s unclear when the segment would have aired.
The unnamed woman is represented by Debra S. Katz and referred to as ‘Jane Doe,’ who was a young temp at ABC who was hoping for a full-time job at the time, The Times reported.
The woman did not wish to be identified and has requested privacy, said Katz, adding that the woman is ‘deeply traumatized’ and doesn’t want to become ‘a pawn in an internecine war between [former network president Jeff] Zucker, Chris Cuomo and CNN.’
The letter relays an encounter between Cuomo and Jane Doe. He had reportedly offered Jane Doe career advice and invited her to lunch in his office, according to the letter, The Times’ interviews and emails between Jane Doe and Cuomo.
When she arrived for lunch, there was no food and Cuomo allegedly badgered her for sex. After she declined, he allegedly assaulted her, according to the letter, and she then ran out of the room.
A spokesman for Cuomo denied the allegations outlined in the letter.
Late Tuesday, a spokesperson for the former CNN anchor issued a statement regarding The New York Times report.
‘It is clear this was never about an undisclosed relationship,’ according to the statement posted to Twitter by a Wall Street Journal reporter. ‘As Mr. Cuomo has stated previously, Mr. Zucker and Ms. [Allison] 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.’
On the same day as the encounter, the unnamed woman reportedly sent friendly emails and tried to smooth things over with Cuomo.
Years later, during the #MeToo movement, Cuomo allegedly proposed arranging a CNN segment about the company where Jane Doe then worked doing public relations. Although she avoided contact with Cuomo, the network ran the segment.
‘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 in the letter.
In November, then-CNN president Jeff Zucker told Cuomo they were suspending him for his involvement with helping his brother, former New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, amid the sexual assault allegations made against the politician.
Chris Cuomo reportedly offered to resign and Zucker allegedly informed him that he might be able to return to the network at some point.
But 24 hours after Zucker suspended Cuomo, the letter from the woman’s lawyer arrived at CNN describing Cuomo’s suspension as an ‘abuse of power at CNN to attempt to silence my client,’ according to The Times.
Later that week, Zucker fired Cuomo, telling him that a drumbeat of scandals had become ‘too much for us,’ according to the newspaper.
Zucker himself resigned on February 2 after revealing his romantic relationship with executive Allison Gollust.
Gollust resigned Tuesday night as CNN’s executive vice president and chief marketing officer months after an internal probe into her alleged ‘inappropriate’ relationship with Zucker.
The 49-year-old left the network following a third-party investigation into ‘issues associated with Chris Cuomo and former Governor Andrew Cuomo,’ a source confirmed to DailyMail.com.
Gollust acknowledged her exit in a bitter email to her staff claiming CNN was trying to undermine her in public: ‘WarnerMedia’s statement tonight is an attempt to retaliate against me and change the media narrative in the wake of their disastrous handling of the last two weeks.’
‘It is deeply disappointing that after spending the past nine years defending and upholding CNN’s highest standards of journalistic integrity, I would be treated this way as I leave.’
‘But I do so with my head held high, knowing I gave my heart and soul to working with the finest journalists in the world.’
‘With much love and gratitude,’ Gollust signed her goodbye message to her colleagues.
Earlier this month, Zucker, 56, announced he was leaving his $6-million-a-year post at CNN for allegedly violating corporate policy by not disclosing the nature of his consensual relationship with Gollust, but he was reportedly given no choice by WarnerMedia CEO Jason Kilar, who characterized the change as his decision.
Gollust and Zucker’s relationship was reportedly uncovered during an internal probe into allegedly inappropriate relationships after Chris Cuomo was fired from the network in December.
CNN became involved after it was found that anchor Cuomo allegedly used his own influence in the media to help his brother, then-Governor Andrew Cuomo, tackle issues including the sexual assault allegations that lead to end of his reign.
There were also reports that Zucker had allegedly coached Governor Cuomo on how to use his televised briefings to go after former President Donald Trump.
Zucker’s spokesperson said he only spoke to the governor about appearing on CNN and denied that Zucker ever gave Cuomo advice.
‘He never gave Andrew Cuomo advice,’ she said.
Over the weekend, the investigation, which began in September, concluded that Gollust, Zucker and Chris Cuomo allegedly violated company policies including Standards and Practices, the source told DailyMail.com.
Before their hurried exits, Gollust and Zucker had worked together for 20 years.
The pair claims their relationship turned romantic during the pandemic but others say it far predates COVID, and was common knowledge for as many as 10 years.
Former CNN employees have suggested that Zucker’s relationship with Gollust had been an ‘open secret’ for nearly a decade.
The pair were spotted at a Billy Joel concert last November, where they were called out for defying mask regulations. Don Lemon could also be seen during the concert standing in the row behind.
Sources have said the romantic relationship was so widely known, even the doormen at the Manhattan apartment building where they both lived with their separate families tried to keep Gollust and Zucker’s ex-wife, Caryn, from interacting.
‘Zucker would disappear for hours on end, but Caryn initially had no idea that the woman she was being polite to in the elevator was sleeping with her [then] husband,’ an unnamed source told the New York Post.
They added: ‘Everyone in the building knew about it – even the doormen tried to ensure Caryn wasn’t in the elevator at the same time as Allison.’
After the news broke last week, CNN host Alisyn Camerota defended Zucker and Gollust, saying there was nothing wrong with their relationship because they are both ‘executives.’
Zucker and Gollust lived in the same apartment building on the Upper East Side with their respective families until Jeff sold his in 2020, after he and his ex-wife Caryn Nathanson split.
Their relationship reportedly stretches back to when they both worked at NBC in the late 1990s. Zucker worked at the network from 1986 to 2010, becoming executive producer of the Today show, then head of NBC Entertainment before becoming president and CEO of NBC Universal.
He met Caryn while they were both working at NBC, when he was the executive producer of the Today Show and she was working at Saturday Night Live. The two were married in 1996, and have four kids.
Gollust, meanwhile, started at NBC in 1996 when she was working as a publicist for Today.
She was married to William Hult, and they had two daughters. According to RadarOnline, they broke up 12 months after Jeff and Caryn finalized their divorce.
In 2012, Gollust was picked by former Gov. Andrew Cuomo to serve as his communications director, before Zucker brought her into work at CNN, where he became president in 2013. She eventually became executive vice president of corporate communications at the network, working directly with Zucker.
Utilizing her connections from her time in the Governor’s office, Gollust was reportedly ‘instrumental’ in having the Cuomo brothers appear on the network during the early stages of the pandemic in 2020.
Together with Zucker, she lobbied Andrew Cuomo to appear on their network, allegedly violating company policy and calling into question their own condemnation of Chris Cuomo’s actions.
The pair contacted the then-governor of New York directly to try and convince him to appear on his brother Chris Cuomo’s show during the pandemic, despite the brotherly interviews breaching journalistic protocols.
When Andrew Cuomo’s team declined, they would make direct appeals.
Sources also say that Chris Cuomo was planning to come forward with a lawsuit that would have detailed how Zucker and Andrew Cuomo had a far deeper relationship than had ever previously been explained.
One allegation suggests the disgraced governor received one-to-one media coaching for his popular pandemic press conferences from Zucker and Gollust.
Gollust and Zucker reportedly advised the former governor on how to handle the COVID crisis and even gave him ‘talking points’ on how to spar with then-President Donald Trump.
CNN also devoted over an hour of uninterrupted airtime to Andrew Cuomo’s daily, televised press briefings throughout the pandemic. The stardom won Andrew Cuomo an Emmy and an army of fans who begged him to run for President.
Chris Cuomo is still fighting for the $18 million he claims he is owed on the remainder of his contract, which Zucker firmly refused after the termination, arguing that he brought the network into disrepute.