In an eerie echo of how former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s words spurred one of his accusers to come forward, the lawyer for a woman who has accused former CNN anchor Chris Cuomo of sexual misconduct said Sunday it was Chris Cuomo’s own words that galvanized her to act.
In August, Brittany Commisso, who filed a criminal complaint against Andrew Cuomo, told CBS that she was triggered by a speech the former governor made denying any impropriety. Andrew Cuomo later resigned amid multiple allegations of sexual harassment against him.
On Sunday, attorney Debra Katz explained in a statement why the client who has accused Chris Cuomo of sexual misconduct came forward.
Chris Cuomo, who had been suspended last week by CNN for his role in his brother’s political defense, was fired by CNN on Saturday.
“In the wake of public sexual harassment allegations against former Governor Andrew Cuomo, Chris Cuomo looked directly into the camera and told viewers of ‘Cuomo Prime Time’, ‘I have always cared very deeply about these issues and profoundly so. I just wanted to tell you that,’” Katz noted in the statement.
NEW—> statement from Debra Katz on CNN’s firing of Chris Cuomo pic.twitter.com/RkmQG6aZgE
— Sarah Ellison (@sarahellison) December 5, 2021
“Subsequently, the Attorney General released jaw-dropping documentary evidence demonstrating that Chris Cuomo played an active role in attempting to smear women whom the Attorney General concluded had made serious allegations of sexual harassment and sexual misconduct against the Governor,” the statement said.
“Hearing the hypocrisy of Chris Cuomo’s on-air words and disgusted by his efforts to try to discredit these women, my client retained counsel to report his serious sexual misconduct against her to CNN,” she said.
Fast forward to last week.
“On Wednesday, December 1, 2021, I contacted CNN to report my client’s allegations of misconduct against Chris Cuomo,” Katz said. “By Friday, I was in discussions with CNN about providing documentary evidence of my client’s allegations and making my client available for an interview with CNN’s outside counsel. Last night, CNN acted promptly on my client’s complaint and fired Mr. Cuomo.
“My client came forward at this time because she felt in sharing her story and related documentation, she could help protect other women,” Katz said.
“She will continue to cooperate with CNN’s investigation into her allegations. Given the nature of her allegations, she wishes to remain anonymous, and we ask that you respect this decision,” Katz said.
The New York Post reported that Chris Cuomo’s accuser was a woman who worked with him at ABC, where he worked from 2006 to 2009 and again in 2013. A report in The New York Times identified the accuser only as a “junior colleague at another network.”
In a September commentary piece in The New York Times, former ABC News producer Shelley Ross wrote that Chris Cuomo grabbed her buttocks at a 2005 party. She explained that she wrote about the incident because, as of that time, Chris Cuomo had “escaped accountability” for both his conduct then and while advising his brother.
Commisso had told CBS that her catalytic moment came in March when Andrew Cuomo denied allegations of sexual harassment and said he “never touched anyone inappropriately.”
“He almost has this smirk that he thinks that he’s untouchable,” Commisso said. “I almost feel like he has this sense of almost a celebrity status and it just — that was the tipping point. I broke down. I said ‘He is lying.'”
“I felt like he was personally saying it to me that ‘I never touched anyone inappropriately,'” Commisso said. “And, ‘yes, you did.'”
Commisso said she “broke down” and told two colleagues “a little bit,” beginning the chain of events that led to her filing a complaint that the former governor touched her inappropriately.
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