Incidents of sexual misconduct by Charlie Rose were far more numerous than previously known, according to a new investigation by The Washington Post, which also found three occasions over a period of 30 years in which CBS managers were warned of his conduct toward women at the network.
An additional 27 women — 14 CBS News employees and 13 who worked with him elsewhere — said Rose sexually harassed them. Concerns about Rose’s behavior were flagged to managers at the network as early as 1986 and as recently as April 2017, when Rose was co-anchor of “CBS This Morning,” according to multiple people with firsthand knowledge of the conversations.
Rose’s response to the new allegations was delivered in a one-sentence email: “Your story is unfair and inaccurate.”
The new allegations follow an earlier Post report on Rose’s behavior at his namesake PBS program, in which eight women accused the TV star of making lewd phone calls, walking around naked in their presence, or groping their breasts, buttocks or genital areas. Rose issued an apology. His PBS show was canceled and he was fired from CBS News.
The Post’s investigation is based on interviews over a five-month period with 107 current and former CBS News employees as well as two dozen others who worked with Rose at other television programs.
Many of those interviewed for this story spoke on the condition of anonymity because they feared retaliation. The Post corroborated specific accounts with witnesses or people in whom they confided.
The new allegations against Rose date to 1976, when, according to a former research assistant, he exposed his penis and touched her breasts in the NBC News Washington bureau where they worked.
“This other personality would come through, and the groping would happen,” said the former research assistant, Joana Matthias, now 63. An NBC News spokeswoman declined to comment.
At CBS News, where in addition to the morning show Rose worked as a contributing correspondent for “60 Minutes,” some women who said they were harassed said they feared reporting the violations to executives, whom they viewed as prioritizing the careers of male stars.
“I had been there long enough to know that it was just the way things went,” said Sophie Gayter, now 27, who worked at “60 Minutes” in 2013 when, she said, Rose groped her buttocks as they walked down an office hallway to a recording studio. “People said what they wanted to you, people did what they wanted to you.”
CBS News, which has said it had no human resources complaints about Rose, issued a statement Wednesday in response to a request for comment.
“Since we terminated Charlie Rose, we’ve worked to strengthen existing systems to ensure a safe environment where everyone can do their best work,” the statement said. “Some of the actions we have taken have been reported publicly, some have not. We offer employees discretion and fairness, and we take swift action when we learn of unacceptable behavior.
“That said, we cannot corroborate or confirm many of the situations described. We continue to look for ways to improve our workplace and this period of reflection and action has been important to all of us. We are not done with this process.”
The executive who hired Rose for multiple roles at the network over the years, longtime “60 Minutes” head and former CBS News chairman Jeff Fager, said via email that he had no knowledge of any allegations against Rose until The Post’s November report.
“I was never informed that Charlie behaved badly with women,” Fager wrote. “I hired him because he was one of the best interviewers in the country. Period. If I knew there was this darker side he never would have been hired.”
The network recently announced the formation of a working group, consisting of a dozen employees, to “assess our workplace environment and hear ideas and suggestions to make CBS News an even better place to do important journalism,” according to an email earlier this month to the staff. A CBS News spokeswoman said that in-person training for sexual harassment is now mandatory for all employees.
In a statement in March, CBS News President David Rhodes said: “I was not aware of harassment by Charlie Rose at CBS.”
Asked during a forum last month at George Washington University, whether CBS News had protected Rose or known about his behavior, Rhodes responded: “Just to be really clear, there was not knowledge.”
The Post has partnered with “60 Minutes” over the years, including on an investigation last year of the Drug Enforcement Administration. None of the investigative reporters or their editors who collaborated directly with “60 Minutes” on that story worked on this one.
‘How often do you like to have sex?’
The first instance identified by The Post in which a CBS News employee said a manager was told of Rose’s conduct was in 1986, when he was filling in as an anchor on “CBS Morning News.”
There, Annmarie Parr, a 22-year-old news clerk, delivered a script to Rose. He had made “lewd, little comments” about her appearance before, Parr said, but that day Rose took it further. “Annmarie, do you like sex?” she said he asked her. “Do you enjoy it? How often do you like to have sex?’” She said she laughed nervously and left.
Parr said she reported Rose’s comments to her boss — a senior producer whom she declined to name — and said she didn’t want to be alone with Rose. The producer laughed, Parr said, and told her, ‘Fine, you don’t have to be alone with him anymore.’
That same year, seven women sued CBS claiming that the workplace on the network’s overnight broadcast “Nightwatch” was “offensive and hostile” to female employees.
The women accused CBS of knowingly tolerating an environment of sexual harassment by the show’s executive producer John Huddy and unidentified other employees. Huddy, who could not be reached for comment, resigned before the suit was filed.
Rose was a co-anchor for the show in Washington, though he was not mentioned in the lawsuit.
One of the plaintiffs, Beth Homan-Ross, who worked directly with Rose as an assistant producer, told The Post that Rose frequently made sexual remarks about her breasts and buttocks. When she arrived at his house to deliver materials or prepare him for work, he would sometimes open the door naked, holding a towel. More than once, she said, Rose asked her to come into his bathroom while he was showering. She said she declined, waiting outside.
“It was a sexual land mine everywhere you stepped,” Homan-Ross, now 61, said of working in the show’s Washington office.
The lawsuit was settled under confidential terms in 1987.
Rose left CBS in 1990 and the next year launched his own show on PBS, which established his brand of long-form interviews with the famous and powerful.
By the end of the decade, Rose had become a household name. In 1998, he was brought back to CBS as a correspondent at “60 Minutes II,” a spinoff of the original program. The arrangement, in which Rose worked part time for the show, gave him the freedom to keep his own show on PBS.
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SOURCE: The Washington Post, Amy Brittain and Irin Carmon