Mark Halperin responded to the numerous sexual harassment allegations against him in a statement posted to Twitter on Friday.
CNN’s Oliver Darcy initially reported early Thursday that five women were accusing the veteran journalist of sexual misconduct in the workplace, and several more women publicly shared similar stories after Darcy’s article. The allegations vary, and include such things as Halperin propositioning women, non-consensually fondling and kissing them, and even masturbating in front of one during a work meeting.
“I am profoundly sorry for the pain and anguish I have caused by my past action,” Halperin wrote Friday. “I apologize sincerely to women I mistreated.”
Halperin worked with ABC News until 2007. After the allegations of misconduct went public, NBC and MSNBC, where he was a political analyst, fired him. Penguin publishing also dropped his third installment of his “Game Change” book series, which was supposed to chronicle the 2016 election.
“The world is now publicly acknowledging what so many women have long known: Men harm women in the workplace,” Halperin wrote. “For a long time at ABC News, I was part of the problem, I acknowledge that, and I deeply regret it.”
The allegations against Halperin come in the wake of the Harvey Weinstein sexual assault scandal, which has opened the floodgates of women calling out powerful men for their inappropriate actions.
Four more women contacted CNN after its initial report to share their own stories of how Halperin behaved inappropriately toward them. One said Halperin invited her to lunch under the pretense of trying to find her a job after she graduated from college in the late ’90s. At the end of their lunch, the woman said, Halperin slammed her against a restaurant window in an attempt to kiss her.
Another woman alleged Halperin masturbated in front of her during her time at ABC News in the late ’90s after she asked to meet with him for career advice.
“I sat in a chair across from him,” the woman told 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.”
Halperin maintains that some of the allegations against him are false, but says he bears responsibility for his conduct. He admitted in his Friday statement that he spent several years in weekly counseling sessions to address his “personal issues.”
“Toward the end of my time at ABC News, I recognized I had a problem,” Halperin wrote. “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.”
Although Halperin has said his misconduct did not continue after he left ABC in 2007, one accuser’s account dates to 2011. Katherine Glenn says she was a student at Tulane when Halperin propositioned her at a university.
″[He] was talking to me about helping me with my career, and that I shouldn’t go to law school and should come to DC and be a journalist or work on the Hill,” Glenn told The Daily Beast. “He offered that I should come back to his hotel room [that night] so we could talk more about my career — and at no point did I think that is what he meant, and the touching under the table did not suggest that, either.”
Lara Setrakian, executive editor of the digital media outlet News Deeply, wrote in an op-ed in The Washington Post on Friday that she was one of the original five women who talked to CNN about Halperin’s misconduct. Setrakian claimed Halperin kissed her and touched her inappropriately while she was junior reporter at ABC.
Setrakian wrote that she was inspired to speak about her experience to change how women in the industry are treated.
“We can’t expect the culture of our newsrooms to get better if we’re not honest about what’s happening,” Setrakian wrote in the Post. “We can’t pretend these incidents are isolated to a few salacious cases at Fox News or call out other flawed industries and institutions with self-righteous indignation. We have to clean our own house.”