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CNN's Chris Cuomo accused of sexual harassment by former boss

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Scott Kowalchyk/CBS via Getty Images

A former boss of Chris Cuomo has accused him of sexually harassing her at a 2005 work party in front of her husband and friends — the on-air personality later characterized his actions as a "hearty greeting."

The anchor was recently caught up in controversy for his alleged involvement in the sexual assault scandal that took down his brother, former Democratic New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo. Now it appears Cuomo has his own scandal to account for.

Shelley Ross, who was Cuomo's executive producer at ABC News, detailed the anchor's inappropriate actions in a guest column for the New York Times published Friday morning.

Here's how she recalled the harassment going down:

I was at the party with my husband, who sat behind me on an ottoman sipping his Diet Coke as I spoke with work friends. When Mr. Cuomo entered the Upper West Side bar, he walked toward me and greeted me with a strong bear hug while lowering one hand to firmly grab and squeeze the cheek of my buttock.

"I can do this now that you're no longer my boss," he said to me with a kind of cocky arrogance. "No you can't," I said, pushing him off me at the chest while stepping back, revealing my husband, who had seen the entire episode at close range. We quickly left.

Cuomo later sent an email apology, Ross claimed. But she said the email left her wondering, "Was he ashamed of what he did, or was he embarrassed because my husband saw it?"

The subject line for the reported email said, "Now that I think of it ... I am ashamed."

"Though my hearty greeting was a function of being glad to see you ... Christian Slater got arrested for a (kind of) similar act (though borne of an alleged negative intent, unlike my own) ... and as a husband I can empathize with not liking to see my wife patted as such," Cuomo went on to say.

At around the same time in 2005, Slater, a well-known actor, was arrested in New York City for harassing a woman on the street by grabbing her butt. Charges were eventually dropped.

"So pass along my apology to your very good and noble husband ... and I apologize to you as well, for even putting you in that situation ... next time, I will remember my lesson, no matter how happy I am to see you," he added.

A screenshot of the email is included in the Times article and can be seen below.

Ross acknowledged "she never thought that Mr. Cuomo's behavior was sexual in nature," but said that "his form of sexual harassment was a hostile act meant to diminish and belittle his female former boss in front of the staff."

The veteran journalist added that her goal in raising the allegations now is not so that Cuomo would lose his job. Rather, she hopes it will serve as "an opportunity for him and his employer to show what accountability can look like in the #MeToo era."

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