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- At least a dozen of Mark Halperin’s former colleagues have reportedly come forward with sexual harassment allegations. In a new allegation that emerged Friday, a woman claimed that Halperin masturbated behind his desk while staring at her. Halperin denied some of the claims and issued a qualified apology, but admitted he felt “profound guilt and responsibility.”
At least a dozen of journalist Mark Halperin’s former colleagues have come forward with startling sexual harassment allegations, including one accuser who alleged Halperin masturbated behind his desk while staring at her, according to a CNN report Friday.
Halperin, who was dismissed from his roles at NBC and MSNBC this week after the sexual harassment claims first surfaced, was accused of the lewd acts from women who worked with him at ABC News.
One of the four new claims reported on Friday by CNN’s Oliver Darcy included one accuser who worked as an ABC News desk assistant in the late 1990s. The accuser, who CNN reported was her early 20s at the time, asked to meet with Halperin for career advice and went into his office after 10 p.m. While the two were talking, she told CNN, Halperin began masturbating behind his wooden desk while he stared at her.
“I sat in a chair across from him,” she said to CNN. “He was behind a wooden desk so I couldn’t see him from the waist down. As we had our conversation about my career he was masturbating. There was no question about it.”
“I pretended like I didn’t know what was going on and we talked a bit more and then he abruptly wrapped up the conversation,” she continued.
Her account, like others, was corroborated by friends who said they were told of the allegations years ago.
Another woman alleged that Halperin had violently thrown her against the window of a restaurant before coming “at me with his open mouth.”
“He put both hands on my arms and threw me against the window of the restaurant hard,” she said to CNN. “So my head banged against the window hard, in a way I thought people inside were going to think something terrible had happened to me.”
“This was rough, and hard, and violent,” she continued. “And not in a seductive way – in a way that telegraphs some anger and meanness.”
Although the woman said she avoided his attempt to kiss her, she said that about 10 minutes later, Halperin gave her a call.
“I was really hoping he would be calling to apologize,” she told CNN. “And he said something to the effect of, ‘You are never going to get a job. You’re never going to be hired in politics or media. Why would anyone ever hire you?'”
“And that’s when I broke down and started crying,” she continued.
CNN reported that Halperin denied some of the latest allegations, saying he had never masturbated in front of anyone or physically assaulted anyone. He released a statement on Friday to “apologize sincerely to the women [he] mistreated.”
“Many of the accounts conveyed by journalists working on stories about me or that I have read after publication have not been particularly detailed (and many were anonymous) making it difficult for me to address certain specifics,” Halperin’s statement said. “But make no mistake: I fully acknowledge and apologize for conduct that was often aggressive and crude.”
“Some of the allegations that have been made against me are not true,” he continued. “But I realize that is a small point in the scheme of things. Again, I bear responsibility for my outrageous conduct at ABC News.”
Read Halperin’s full statement:
“I am profoundly sorry for the pain and anguish I have caused by my past actions. I apologize sincerely to the women I mistreated.
“The world is now publicly acknowledging what so many women have long known: Men harm women in the workplace. That new awareness is, of course, a positive development. For a long time at ABC News, I was part of the problem. I acknowledge that, and I deeply regret it. As I said earlier in the week, my behavior was wrong. It caused fear and anxiety for women who were only seeking to do their jobs.
“In recent days I have closely read the accounts of women with whom I worked at ABC News. I have not read these accounts looking for discrepancies or inconsistencies. Instead, in almost every case, I have recognized conduct for which I feel profound guilt and responsibility, some involving junior ABC News personnel and women just starting out in the news business.
“Many of the accounts conveyed by journalists working on stories about me or that I have read after publication have not been particularly detailed (and many were anonymous) making it difficult for me to address certain specifics. But make no mistake: I fully acknowledge and apologize for conduct that was often aggressive and crude.
“Towards the end of my time at ABC News, I recognized I had a problem. No one had sued me, no one had filed a human resources complaint against me, no colleague had confronted me. But I didn’t need a call from HR to know that I was a selfish, immature person, who was behaving in a manner that had to stop.
“For several years around my departure from ABC News, I had weekly counseling sessions to work on understanding the personal issues and attitudes that caused me to behave in such an inappropriate manner.
“Those who have worked with me in the past decade know that my conduct in subsequent jobs at TIME, Bloomberg, NBC News, and Showtime has not been what it was at ABC. I did not engage in improper behavior with colleagues or subordinates. If you spoke to my co-workers in those four places (men and women alike), I am confident you would find that I had a very different reputation than I had at ABC News because I conducted myself in a very different manner.
“Some of the allegations that have been made against me are not true. But I realize that is a small point in the scheme of things. Again, I bear responsibility for my outrageous conduct at ABC News.
“I hope that not only will women going forward be more confident in speaking up, but also that we as an industry and society can create an atmosphere that no longer tolerates this kind of behavior.
“I know I can never do enough to make up for the harm I caused. I will be spending time with my family and friends, as I work to make amends and contributions both large and small.”