3 women sue ex-TV anchor Charlie Rose over sexual harassment

The three women who worked for prominent TV journalist Charlie Rose have accused him of making offensive comments and touching them inappropriately. PHOTO: REUTERS

Numerous examples of misconduct listed in lawsuit; CBS News also named as a defendant

NEW YORK • Three women have filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against former CBS News television anchor Charlie Rose, accusing the prominent journalist of touching them inappropriately and making offensive comments.

The lawsuit filed in New York state court on Friday appears to be the first brought against Mr Rose alleging sexual misconduct since he was fired from the network last autumn following a Washington Post report that he had harassed eight women. CBS News is also named as a defendant.

The lawsuit against Mr Rose and CBS was filed by three women in their early 20s: Ms Katherine Harris and Ms Sydney McNeal, former employees of Mr Rose, and current CBS employee Yuqing Wei.

The 17-page lawsuit alleges that Mr Rose repeatedly touched the women, sexually caressing their arms, shoulders, waist and back, pulling them close to his body, and kissing them on the cheek last year.

Ms Harris, who worked at CBS before going to work for Mr Rose last year, and Ms McNeal, who became his executive assistant also in 2017, said he had repeatedly made sexual remarks.

The now 76-year-old former broadcaster put his hands on their thighs, directed them to share details of their sex lives and boasted of his conquests, it claims.

  • TV host with high-profile guests

  • WASHINGTON • Once one of America's most respected broadcasters, Mr Charlie Rose was a ubiquitous force in television for decades.

    In addition to being a familiar face to US audiences, he was also an award-winning journalist who received accolades such as an Emmy Award and a Peabody Award, and the recipient of many honorary degrees.

    Prior to his downfall, Mr Rose's prestigious nightly one-hour programme, named after him, was being produced by his independent television production company, beginning in 1991. It used to air nightly on the PBS network and was also broadcast on Bloomberg TV.

    The show saw him conducting in-depth interviews with personalities from the world of science, politics, the arts, entertainment, business, sports and technology.

    While the show lacked mass viewership, it was known for securing high-profile guests, including Singapore's late prime minister Lee Kuan Yew and current PM Lee Hsien Loong, former US president Barack Obama, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, media mogul Oprah Winfrey and American business magnate Warren Buffett.

    For celebrities, getting on the show was a coup, lending some measure of credibility to their star power. For those hoping to make it, the show turned many of them into celebrities.

    As an interviewer, Mr Rose was known for employing an engaging yet serious tone - a marked contrast to the boisterous and argumentative style of interviews on cable television.

    Born in Henderson, North Carolina, he graduated from Duke University with a Bachelor of Arts in History and a Juris Doctor degree from the School of Law.

    WASHINGTON POST, NYTIMES, BLOOMBERG

At one point, they said, he told them: "You just need to become lovers already."

The suit said that when Ms Harris wore a miniskirt covered in images of roses, he told her "that the roses on her skirt are his roses". The lawsuit also alleged that Mr Rose referred to Ms Wei as "China Doll".

The lawsuit came one day after the Washington Post published an investigative story that reported an additional 27 women, including 14 CBS News employees, had accused Mr Rose of harassment.

The newspaper also reported that CBS managers were warned of Mr Rose's conduct at least three times over a period of 30 years.

The lawsuit alleges that Ms Wei had talked last April to Mr Ryan Kadro, executive producer of CBS This Morning, about the attention Mr Rose was paying towards Ms Harris, which Ms Wei said involved out-of-the-office lunches and an attention to Ms Harris she perceived as unusual.

"Ms Wei also told Mr Kadro words to the effect of, 'I'm telling you in case you have a lawsuit on your hands,'" the suit alleges.

In response, the Post wrote, CBS News said in a statement that it had worked to strengthen protections for employees in the wake of the Rose scandal but could not "corroborate or confirm many of the situations described" in the new report.

Mr Rose could not immediately be reached for comment. He called the latest Washington Post story "unfair and inaccurate", according to the newspaper.

Mr Rose fired Ms Harris and Ms McNeal following last year's Washington Post story, and CBS did not offer them new positions, the lawsuit said. The complaint also accused the network of demoting Ms Wei in retaliation for her complaint against Mr Rose.

The lawsuit also alleges that in addition to Mr Rose, "one or more other high-level male executives at CBS committed acts of sexual harassment against women".

REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, WASHINGTON POST, NYTIMES

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on May 06, 2018, with the headline '3 women sue ex-TV anchor Charlie Rose over sexual harassment'. Print Edition | Subscribe