PBS has announced that it will suspend Charlie Rose’s eponymous show after eight women accused the longtime TV personality of sexual harassment, his alleged offenses ranging from groping his female employees to walking naked in front of them to forcing them into lewd phone calls, according to a new report in the Washington Post.
Of the eight women, three agreed to speak on the record; five opted to remain anonymous. In all cases, the women were either employees or aspiring employees involved with the Charlie Rose show, with allegations stretching from the late ’90s up until 2011.
One woman, Kyle Godfrey-Ryan, said Rose walked nude in front of her at least a dozen times during her stint as his assistant in the mid-2000s, in addition to calling her at odd hours to describe his fantasy of watching her swim naked in a pool while he watched. At the time, she was around 21 years old.
“It feels branded into me, the details of it,” Godfrey-Ryan told the paper.
Five of the women recalled that Rose put his hand on their legs, sometimes their upper thigh, in what they said seemed to be a test to “gauge their reactions.” Two said Rose emerged from the shower naked while they were traveling with him, and one said he groped her at a staff party. Company-wide, Rose’s behavior appeared to be well-known among staff:
The young women who were hired by the show were sometimes known as “Charlie’s Angels,” two former employees said. Rose frequently gave unsolicited shoulder rubs to several of them, behavior referred to among employees as “the crusty paw,” a former employee said.
Like so many men recently outed for harassment, rumors of Rose’s misconduct have circulated for years. One of the reporters to break the story, Irin Carmon, wrote that she initially heard tell of Rose’s behavior while she was a writer at Jezebel in 2010. Only in the past weeks, however, were she and her colleagues able to get the alleged victims to speak on the record.
Rose, who is now 75, acknowledged his impropriety in a statement to the Post:
“In my 45 years in journalism, I have prided myself on being an advocate for the careers of the women with whom I have worked,” Rose said in a statement provided to The Post. “Nevertheless, in the past few days, claims have been made about my behavior toward some former female colleagues.
“It is essential that these women know I hear them and that I deeply apologize for my inappropriate behavior. I am greatly embarrassed. I have behaved insensitively at times, and I accept responsibility for that, though I do not believe that all of these allegations are accurate. I always felt that I was pursuing shared feelings, even though I now realize I was mistaken.
“I have learned a great deal as a result of these events, and I hope others will too. All of us, including me, are coming to a newer and deeper recognition of the pain caused by conduct in the past, and have come to a profound new respect for women and their lives.”
In some cases, Rose’s employees asked for help, only to find those requests brushed aside. At one point, Godfrey-Ryan contacted Rose’s longtime executive producer, Yvette Vega, and explained to her what happened.
“She would just shrug and just say, ‘That’s just Charlie being Charlie.’ ” Godfrey-Ryan said.
In a statement to the Post, Vega said she wished she’d done more to help the women who came to her with complaints.
“I should have stood up for them,” she said. “I failed. It is crushing. I deeply regret not helping them.”
Update, 12:40 p.m.: CBS, where Rose was a longtime correspondent on 60 Minutes, has terminated his contract.
Rose, meanwhile, seems to have walked back the apology he issued yesterday, asserting that his actions were not “wrongdoings.”