Five women have accused veteran journalist Mark Halperin of sexually harassing them while he was in a powerful position at ABC News.
Reports say five women shared their previously undisclosed accounts with CNN and others who did not experience the alleged harassment personally, but were aware of it.
“During this period, I did pursue relationships with women that I worked with, including some junior to me,” Halperin said in a statement to CNN Wednesday night. “I now understand from these accounts that my behaviour 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.”
Widely considered to be one of the preeminent political journalists, Halperin, 52, has, among other career highlights, been political director at ABC News; co-authored the bestselling book “Game Change,” which was made into an HBO movie starring Julianne Moore as Sarah Palin; and anchored a television show on Bloomberg TV.
He currently serves as an analyst for NBC News, making frequent appearances on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” and is featured in Showtime’s “The Circus,” a show that chronicled the 2016 campaign cycle and the early days of the Trump presidency, and has a project in development with HBO, which, like CNN, is owned by Time Warner.
But women who spoke to CNN say he also had a dark side not made public until now. The stories of harassment shared with CNN range in nature from propositioning employees for sex to kissing and grabbing one’s breasts against her will.
Three of the women who spoke to CNN described Halperin as, without consent, pressing an erection against their bodies while he was clothed. Halperin denies grabbing a woman’s breasts and pressing his genitals against the three women.
The women who worked with Halperin and who spoke with CNN did not report to Halperin. However, Halperin made many decisions about political coverage at ABC News, and had a voice in some critical personnel decisions.
None of the women have said, though, that he ever promised anything in exchange for sex, or suggested that he would retaliate against anyone.
Still, while they no longer work with him, Halperin continues to wield influence in politics and media. The women who spoke to CNN said it was for this reason that they shared their accounts on the condition of anonymity.
Others also said they still feel embarrassed about what happened to them and did not want to be publicly associated with it.
Read more: CNN