Veteran political journalist Mark Halperin is taking “a step back from my day-to-day work” after being accused of sexual harassment by five different women, CNN reported.
The women, whose names have not been disclosed, told CNN that the harassment occurred while the “Game Change” co-author was still in “a powerful position at ABC News.”
Halperin acknowledged the accusations in a statement provided to CNN. “During this period, I did pursue relationships with women that I worked with, including some junior to me. I now understand from these accounts that my behavior was inappropriate and caused others pain,” he said. “For that, I am deeply sorry and I apologize. Under the circumstances, I’m going to take a step back from my day-to-day work while I properly deal with this situation.”
According to CNN, the accusations against Halperin include propositions for sex, unwanted kissing, grabbing one woman’s breasts, and pressing his genitals against three different women’s bodies while clothed. CNN reports that Halperin specifically denies the latter two accusations.
The women involved did not report to Halperin, and CNN says none of them accused him of promising favors in exchange for sex, or threatening retaliation for rejection.
CNN said that the behavior allegedly occurred during a period ranging from the 1990s through the mid-2000s, but says it has not uncovered any incidents since Halperin departed ABC News.
The extent of Halperin’s hiatus from his “day-to-day work” was left unspecified. He is currently a political analyst for NBC, and the co-creator and co-star of the Showtime documentary series “The Circus: Inside the Greatest Political Show on Earth.” He co-authored the book “Game Change,” about the 2008 presidential election, and its sequel, “Double Down: Game Change 2012.” “Game Change” was adapted into a 2012 HBO film starring Julianne Moore and Ed Harris and directed by Jay Roach.
The accusations against Halperin come as a growing number of women in entertainment and media come forward with stories of harassment and assault in the wake of the Harvey Weinstein scandal. On Tuesday, a new literary magazine backed by Laurene Powell Jobs was shuttered after its editor in chief, former New Republic editor Leon Wieseltier, admitted to past sexual misconduct.