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5 women accuse vet journalist Mark Halperin of sexual harassment

Five women have come forward to accuse veteran journalist and current NBC analyst Mark Halperin of sexual harassment while he held a top position at ABC News, CNN reported Wednesday evening.

In a statement to CNN, Halperin offered an apology.

"During this period, I did pursue relationships with women that I worked with, including some junior to me," Halperin said. "I now understand from these accounts that my behavior was inappropriate and caused others pain. For that, I am deeply sorry and I apologize. Under the circumstances, I'm going to take a step back from my day-to-day work while I properly deal with this situation."

According to CNN, Halperin’s alleged disgusting behavior ranged from propositioning his employees for sex, to pressing an erection against their bodies, and forcibly kissing one woman and grabbing her breasts.

The first woman to come forward alleged an incident with Halperin that happened “in the early 2000s,” when Halperin was the political director at ABC News.

"I went up to have a soda and talk and… he just kissed me and grabbed my boobs," the woman said. "I just froze. I didn't know what to do."

This woman would later confide what happened to a friend, and this friend told CNN she remembered seeing her visibly shaken.

A second accuser, another former ABC employee, claims Halperin harassed her during the 2004 election cycle, when she was 25 years old. She had reached out to Halperin hoping to be assigned as a reporter traveling with presidential campaigns.

"The first meeting I ever had with him was in his office and he just came up from behind – I was sitting in a chair from across his desk – and he came up behind me and [while he was clothed] he pressed his body on mine, his penis, on my shoulder," the woman said. "I was obviously completely shocked. I can't even remember how I got out of there -- [but] I got out of there and was freaked out by that whole experience. Given I was so young and new I wasn't sure if that was the sort of thing that was expected of you if you wanted something from a male figure in news."

She also alleged that Halperin would touch her and propositioned her for sex on the campaign trail.

"It was more like him coming up too close to me and sort of along the lines of hugging me," she recounted. "He would say, 'Why don't you meet me upstairs?' And I would say, 'That's not a good idea.' And he would push the request further."

A third woman claimed Halperin propositioned her for sex outside of a bathroom.

"I excused myself to go to the bathroom and he was standing there when I opened the door propositioning [me] to go into the other bathroom to do something," the third woman told CNN. "It freaked me out. I came out of the ladies' room and he was just standing there. Like almost blocking the door."

Two more women spoke to CNN but did not offer quotes on the record for the story. One claimed Halperin invited her up to his hotel room and the other said that Halperin, while clothed, placed his erection against her body without her consent.

The women who spoke to CNN explained that they did not report Halperin’s behavior because he held a powerful position at ABC, and because they feared retaliation.

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