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Former ABC News executive says Chris Cuomo harassed her

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Former ABC News executive says Chris Cuomo harassed her

By DAVID BAUDER

NEW YORK (AP) — A television executive who accused Chris Cuomo of groping her at a party 16 years ago says the CNN anchor needs a public education about sexual harassment and if he did that, “he’d be a hero instead of a cad.”

The executive, Shelley Ross, said Friday she’s concerned that Cuomo’s reaction to her story and his role advising his brother, former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, indicates that he’s learned little about harassment and what it does to women.

“I don’t want to see anybody lose their job,” Ross told The Associated Press. “I want to see people learn and to make the news business a better place and the workplace a better place.”

Her story represented another embarrassment for the host of “Cuomo Prime Time,” generally the network’s top-rated show. He has been criticized for his role advising his brother, Andrew Cuomo, who resigned as New York governor last month over allegations of sexual harassment from multiple women.

Cuomo did not address the matter on his show Friday night.

Ross said in an opinion piece in The New York Times on Friday that Chris Cuomo had greeted her at a going-away party in 2005 with a bear hug “while lowering one hand to firmly grab and squeeze the cheek of my buttock.”

Ross said Cuomo told her, “I can do this now that you’re no longer my boss,” and she responded, “No you can’t,” pushing him off while stepping back to reveal her husband, who saw the whole thing.

In an interview, Ross called it an attempt to diminish and belittle a female executive in front of her staff.

Cuomo sent an apologetic email to Ross shortly afterward saying he was “ashamed.”

Asked for comment, Cuomo told the Times, “As Shelley acknowledges, our interaction was not sexual in nature. It happened 16 years ago in a public setting when she was a top executive at ABC. I apologized to her then, and I meant it.” CNN had no additional comment on Friday.

“There was no interaction,” said Ross, former executive producer of the newsmagazine “Primetime Live.” “An interaction has a premise that two people are involved in something. I did not want to be groped.”

“I didn’t know if he had changed from the years we worked together,” she added, “and I see from the response that he hasn’t.”

Cuomo took a scheduled day off Friday from his SiriusXM radio show, the service said. CNN referred reporters to Cuomo’s statement to the newspaper.

Ross said she was motivated to tell her story in part because of the fallout faced by some people who had advised the former governor. They included the resignations of Roberta Kaplan and Tina Tchen, two figures in the Time’s Up organization, and Alphonso David, who was ousted as president of the Human Rights Campaign.

CNN has not commented publicly about findings from a New York attorney general’s report about Chris Cuomo being involved in discussions with his brother’s advisers about how to respond to the first reports of harassment allegations. Such involvement in politics is generally considered off-limits for journalists.

Chris Cuomo told CNN viewers last month that he had advised his brother to be contrite.

“I was there to listen and offer my take,” Cuomo said. “And my advice to my brother was simple and consistent — own what you did, tell people what you’ll try to do to be better, be contrite. Finally, accept that it doesn’t matter what you intended, what matters is how your actions and your words are perceived.”

He eventually advised his brother, who has denied touching any women inappropriately, to resign. But the Washington Post reported that, when charges were first revealed last winter, Chris Cuomo had advised Andrew to take a defiant position and not resign.

The report by New York Attorney General Letitia James that precipitated the governor’s resignation included an email Chris Cuomo sent to his brother’s advisers last February about a suggested public statement that the New York Democrat should make.

Ross said in her essay in the Times that Chris Cuomo should have been ashamed for his conduct with her, “But my question today is the same as it was then: Was he ashamed of what he did, or was he embarrassed because my husband saw it?”

She wrote that she sees Cuomo’s apology as “an attempt to provide himself with legal and moral coverage to evade accountability.”

Ross has written previously of being sexually harassed by Roger Ailes, who was ousted from Fox News Channel over harassment complaints and died in 2017.

Recounting the 1981 encounter in her New York Times piece, Ross said Ailes apologized to her for insisting on a “sexual alliance” as a condition of a pending job offer at NBC’s “Tomorrow” show. Ross said she accepted Ailes’ apology, naively thinking she could “help reform the workplace one predator at a time.”

She suggested a series of town hall meetings titled “The Continuing Education of Chris Cuomo.”

___

This story has been corrected to show that the program Cuomo hosts is called “Cuomo Prime Time,” not “CNN Prime Time.”

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Gophers to transfer out hits 10 with lineman Saia Mapakaitolo

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Gophers to transfer out hits 10 with lineman Saia Mapakaitolo

Gophers true freshman offensive lineman Saia Mapakaitolo has entered the NCAA transfer portal, a source confirmed to the Pioneer Press on Monday.

Mapakaitolo appeared to be well under his listed 6-foot-5 and 270 pounds and he did not appear in a game in the 2021 season. The former Southern Cal commit from a Mesa, Ariz., joined the U’s class late in the cycle last year.

Minnesota has had a total of 10 players exit the program since October; one, defensive end MJ Anderson, announced Sunday he will go to Iowa State.

The full list also includes: running back Cam Wiley, guard Curtis Dunlap, defensive tackle Rashad Cheney, linebacker James “DJ” Gordon, tight end Austin Henderson and receiver Dylan Hillard-McGill and quarterbacks Zack Annexstad and Jacob Clark.

Gophers head coach P.J. Fleck said when current players first hit the portal in October that he anticipated more players would enter the portal in its second year.

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Timberwolves starting to get healthy

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Timberwolves starting to get healthy

The Timberwolves weren’t at full strength Monday against Atlanta, but they do finally seem to be trending in that direction.

Minnesota got Jaden McDaniels and Karl-Anthony Towns back in the lineup, while Patrick Beverley is quickly working toward his return.

McDaniels had a serious bout with the flu, in which Timberwolves coach Chris Finch joked the forward “lost the whole 10 pounds (he gained) all summer, which he could ill afford to do.” The illness knocked McDaniels out to the point where he was in bed for several days and unable to join the team on the road.

Saturday was the first day the forward finally felt “normal” and he was able to practice Sunday. Finch said McDaniels looked “pretty good” in the practice after missing two games.

Beverley was originally expected to miss at least two weeks with his groin injury, and then be re-evaluated at that point. That would’ve meant the Wolves looked at him at the end of this week, but he was questionable for Monday’s contest before he was eventually ruled out prior to tip-off.

Finch said the veteran guard played 5-on-5 hoops with the team’s low-minutes guys and a few coaches earlier in the day Monday.

“He had a really good run,” Finch said. “He’s inching closer and closer.”

A return to action Wednesday against Utah looks possible.

D’Angelo Russell missed Monday’s game with an ankle injury. That meant the Wolves were down three point guard options in Russell, Beverley and Jaylen Nowell. That pushed rookie guard Leandro Bolmaro into the starting unit.

Finch said Bolmaro — who wasn’t in the rotation as recently as two weeks ago until Beverley went down — was “really excited” about the opportunity. Finch said the Wolves needed Bolmaro’s size and defensive acumen to guard Trae Young.

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Gophers welcome back Kirk Ciarrocca as offensive coordinator

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Gophers welcome back Kirk Ciarrocca as offensive coordinator

The Gophers football program has officially brought back Kirk Ciarrocca as offensive coordinator, the school said Monday.

Ciarrocca will return as OC and quarterbacks coach, a role he had under head coach P.J. Fleck at Minnesota from 2017-19. Ciarrocca left Minnesota after the 2019 season to become offensive coordinator at Penn State in 2020 and offensive analyst at West Virginia in 2021.

“Kirk is one of the best offensive coordinators in the game, but he is also a tremendous person,” Fleck said in a statement. “We have a long professional history of working together, and I look forward to reuniting with him.”

The Gophers play West Virginia in the Guaranteed Rate Bowl in Phoenix on Dec. 28, and while Ciarrocca restarted at Minnesota on Monday, he will not coach in the bowl game after conversations with Fleck and Mountaineers coach Neal Brown.

“We both agreed to not have Kirk coach in the Guaranteed Rate Bowl with his knowledge of both teams’ personnel,” Fleck continued. “When we made the decision to hire Kirk, we did not yet know our bowl opponent. Coach Brown and I both thought this would be best to avoid any awkwardness for both sets of student-athletes. It’s the right thing to do.”

Matt Simon, the U’s wide receivers coach and co-offensive coordinator, will call offensive plays during the bowl game. He previously called plays in the Outback Bowl win over Auburn on New Year’s Day 2020.

Ciarrocca replaces Mike Sanford Jr., who was let go last week after the U’s performances didn’t come close to matching the heights of Ciarrocca’s best season in 2019. Sanford was at the end of a two-year contract paying him $663,000 per year.

Ciarrocca left Minnesota when he was set for a raise to $1 million per year in 2020; terms of his new deal were not shared, and the Gophers added his hire is pending Board of Regent approval.

Brown has known Ciarrocca for 20 years and had a lot of praise for him during a virtual bowl game news conference on Sunday.

“I think if you are talking about a system, the best thing that I can use is he is efficient,” Brown said. “If you look throughout his career, he’s been extremely efficient. I think he’s been able to find unique ways to run the football at every stop, regardless of what his personnel is. … He’s efficient, so when you are talking about an offensive coach. I think that is what we are all hunting and he’s done it better than most.”

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