CNN's firing of network anchor Chris Cuomo on Saturday came just days after the company was made aware of sexual misconduct allegations made against him by a former colleague he worked with at a previous television job.
Cuomo's firing came after the network on Tuesday suspended him indefinitely following revelations that he was more involved in the defense of his brother, former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo's (D), amid sexual misconduct allegations made against the governor. The former CNN anchor reportedly used his media contacts to dig up dirt on women who accused his brother of sexual harassment and was in regular contact with the governor's top aide regarding his findings.
This, despite the anchor telling viewers that he "never made calls" to the media about the allegations against his brother, who resigned in August after an investigation from the New York state attorney general's office found the governor sexually harassed 11 women.
But The New York Times reported that on Wednesday, Chris Cuomo had also been accused of sexual misconduct, with attorney Debra S. Katz, who also represents Gov. Cuomo accuser Charlotte Bennett, notifying CNN that a different client alleges that Chris Cuomo sexually harassed her.
Katz told The Times that the allegation, made by a junior staffer at another network, is "unrelated to the Gov. Andrew Cuomo matter."
She said her client "came forward because she was disgusted by Chris Cuomo’s on-air statements in response to the allegations made against his brother, Gov. Andrew Cuomo," referring to a March 1 broadcast of "Cuomo Primetime" in which Chris Cuomo said that he has "always cared very deeply about these issues, and profoundly so."
Cuomo's spokesperson denied the sexual misconduct allegations in a statement to The Times, saying, "These apparently anonymous allegations are not true."
"To the extent that they were sent to CNN to negate what Chris Cuomo told his audience, he fully stands by his on-air statements about his connection to these issues, both professionally and in a profoundly personal way," his spokesperson said. "If the goal in making these false and unvetted accusations was to see Mr. Cuomo punished by CNN, that may explain his unwarranted termination."
And in a statement released Sunday, Katz said that, by Friday, she "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."
"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."
This comes after Shelly Ross, who had worked with Cuomo during his tenure at ABC News, wrote a guest essay in The Times back in September detailing an instance in which the anchor touched her buttocks during a work party in 2005. She included in the essay a screenshot of the apology email he had sent to her following the incident.
CNN said in its statement Saturday announcing Cuomo's termination that, when evaluating "new information that came to light" about his involvement in his brother's defense, "additional information has come to light."
"Chris Cuomo was suspended earlier this week pending further evaluation of new information that came to light about his involvement with his brother's defense," the statement read. "We retained a respected law firm to conduct the review, and have terminated him, effective immediately. While in the process of that review, additional information has come to light. Despite the termination, we will investigate as appropriate."
In a statement of his own, Chris Cuomo said that this "is not how I want my time at CNN to end but I have already told you why and how I helped my brother."
"So let me now say as disappointing as this is, I could not be more proud of the team at Cuomo Prime Time and the work we did as CNN's #1 show in the most competitive time slot," he said. "I owe them all and will miss that group of special people who did really important work."