The women who have sued Charlie Rose for sexual harassment want him to answer detailed questions about his affairs and sexual conduct in the office.
Three women — Katherine Brooks Harris, Sydney McNeal, and Chelsea Wei — have accused the former co-host of CBS This Morning of touching them inappropriately and making unwanted sexual remarks. Rose was fired, and his PBS talk show was canceled, in the wake of a November 2017 report in the Washington Post detailing decades of alleged sexual misconduct.
At the time, Rose publicly apologized for his “inappropriate behavior,” saying he had behaved “insensitively.” He also said he thought he was pursuing “shared feelings,” but had come to realize he was mistaken.
Rose sat for a deposition on Nov. 14, and the plaintiffs’ attorneys sought to get him to explain exactly what he was apologizing for. Rose answered in general terms, but his attorney repeatedly instructed him not to answer detailed questions. Rose acknowledged having romantic relations with women in the office over the course of his 45-year career, but refused to identify the women.
In a motion on Monday, attorney Kenneth A. Goldberg asked the judge to order Rose to provide responses.
“Rose is not above the law,” Goldberg wrote. “He does not get to pick and choose what information Plaintiffs receive in discovery.”
Among other things, Rose was asked if he had ever dated Bonnie Raitt. The attorneys cited a YouTube video in which Rose kisses Raitt on the lips. Rose’s attorney instructed him not to answer the question.
When asked about the “inappropriate behavior” he had apologized for, Rose answered only in generalities.
“Well, I’m saying inappropriate because the fact I had relationships with people in the workplace over those years and, you know, we have now come to understand and appreciate, and had by then, that romantic relationships or intimacies were not appropriate in the workplace because, you know, because there was power and balance [sic], and you were in some cases the boss and you had a relationship that was defined within the workplace,” he said.
Asked if he was referring to any women in particular, he said it was a general reference to women with whom he had “some kind of intimacy.” Asked to explain what he meant by his failure to realize that the feelings were not “shared,” Rose again offered only generalities.
“It is a reference to the fact that we now know that we might have thought that, but some people have stepped forward to say, well, that it was in the workplace and therefore, you know, it wasn’t necessarily shared by definition,” he said.
“I wasn’t thinking about specific people,” he added, “I was thinking of my own sense of passion, my history and respect for women, my sense of emotional connection to gender equality, my idea of always being a champion and in that capacity.”
In the motion to compel further responses, Goldberg argued that his questions about Rose’s relationships and workplace conduct are clearly germane to the lawsuit.
“Plaintiffs are entitled to probe Rose’s conduct towards and interactions with women other than Plaintiffs in the workplace and such matters address his motive, credibility and other issues,” Goldberg wrote.
Goldberg also took a deposition in October of Kyle Godfrey-Ryan, a former assistant who accused Rose of misconduct in the Washington Post article. Godfrey-Ryan said Rose was “always” touching or groping her in the office.
“He would grab like the outside of my breasts,” she said. “He would like kiss me very seductive. He — he treated me physically at times as if I were like a lover or a girlfriend… There wasn’t like — there was nothing, like, secret about it… It was a very, like, out in the open sort of behavior.”
She testified that when he groped her, she would “freeze up” and pretend it wasn’t happening. Sometimes, she said he would call late at night and initiate sexual conversations.
“Once he called and like explained — he explained like this very detailed fantasy he had of me,” she said. “It was of me swimming in his pool naked and him watching me swim in his pool.”
In his deposition, Rose denied that allegation. “I haven’t said that about any employee, period,” he said.