According to five women, veteran journalist Mark Halperin sexually harassed women while he was in a powerful position at ABC News, reports CNN. CNN spoke to five women, and others who did not personally experience the alleged harassment, but were aware of it.
On Wednesday, Halperin released a statement acknowledging that he did pursue relationships with women he worked with, including those junior to him.
“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,” he said in a statement to CNN.
MSNBC said that they find the story and allegations “very troubling,” and that Halperin would leave his roles at the network and as an analyst at NBC News.
The stories women shared about Halper, 52, range from propositioning employees for sex to kissing and “grabbing one’s breasts against her will,” reports CNN. Three of the women told CNN that Halperin, without consent, pressed an erection against their bodies while he was clothed.
“I went up to have a soda and talk and — he just kissed me and grabbed my boobs,” one woman told CNN. “I just froze. I didn’t know what to do.”
Another woman told CNN that Halperin “he pressed his body on mine, his penis, on my shoulder,” and that he continued to express a sexual desire for her, despite being rebuffed.
Multiple women said that he propositioned them while on the campaign trail.
The women told CNN that they did not report to Halperin, but he made decisions about political coverage at ABC News and had a say in certain personnel decisions. The women did not say that he promised anything in exchange for sex or suggested that he would retaliate against them, CNN writes. But the women wanted to share their stories anonymously because Halperin still has influence in politics and media. Others were embarrassed by what happened, and did not want to be publicly linked to it.
This article was featured in the InsideHook newsletter. Sign up now.