Eight women have told the Washington Post that longtime US television host Charlie Rose made unwanted sexual advances toward them, including lewd phone calls, walking around naked in their presence, or groping their breasts, buttocks or genital areas.

The women were employees or aspired to work for Rose at the Charlie Rose show from the late 1990s to as recently as 2011. They ranged in age from 21 to 37 at the time of the alleged encounters. Rose, 75, whose show airs on PBS, also co-hosts CBS This Morning and is a contributing correspondent for 60 Minutes.

There are striking commonalities in the accounts of the women, each of whom described their interactions with Rose in multiple interviews with the Post. For all of the women, reporters interviewed friends, colleagues or family members who said the women had confided in them about aspects of the incidents. Three of the eight spoke on the record.

Five of the women spoke on the condition of anonymity out of fear of Rose's stature in the industry, his power over their careers or what they described as his volatile temper.

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"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 behaviour toward some former female colleagues.

"It is essential that these women know I hear them and that I deeply apologise for my inappropriate behaviour. 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 realise 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."

Most of the women said Rose alternated between fury and flattery in his interactions with them. Five described Rose putting his hand on their legs, sometimes their upper thigh, in what they perceived as a test to gauge their reactions. Two said that while they were working for Rose at his residences or were traveling with him on business, he emerged from the shower and walked naked in front of them. One said he groped her buttocks at a staff party.

Reah Bravo was an intern and then associate producer for Rose's PBS show beginning in 2007. In interviews, she described unwanted sexual advances while working for Rose at his private waterfront estate in Bellport, New York, and while travelling with him in cars, in a hotel suite and on a private plane.

"It has taken 10 years and a fierce moment of cultural reckoning for me to understand these moments for what they were," she said. "He was a sexual predator, and I was his victim."

Kyle Godfrey-Ryan, one of Rose's assistants in the mid-2000s, recalled at least a dozen instances where Rose walked nude in front of her while she worked in one of his New York City homes. He also repeatedly called the then-21-year-old late at night or early in the morning to describe his fantasies of her swimming naked in the Bellport pool as he watched from his bedroom, she said.

"It feels branded into me, the details of it," Godfrey-Ryan said.

She said she told Yvette Vega, Rose's longtime executive producer, about the calls.

"I explained how he inappropriately spoke to me during those times," Godfrey-Ryan said. "She would just shrug and just say, 'That's just Charlie being Charlie.' "

Vega said she should have done more to protect the young women on the show.

"I should have stood up for them," said Vega, 52, who has worked with Rose since the show was created in 1991. "I failed. It is crushing. I deeply regret not helping them."

Godfrey-Ryan said that when Rose learned she had confided to a mutual friend about his conduct, he fired her.

Megan Creydt worked as a coordinator on the show from 2005 to 2006, overlapping with Godfrey-Ryan.

"It was quite early in working there that he put his hand on my mid-thigh," said Creydt, who agreed to be interviewed on the record to support other women who were coming forward with what she deemed to be more serious claims concerning Rose.

She said that during the incident, Rose was driving his Mini Cooper in Manhattan while she was sitting in the passenger seat.

"I don't think I said anything," she said. "I tensed up. I didn't move his hand off, but I pulled my legs to the other side of the car. I tried not to get in a car with him ever again. I think he was testing me out."

Her then-boyfriend confirmed to the Post that she told him the story at the time.

In addition to the eight women who say they were harassed, the Post spoke to about two dozen former employees who spoke on the condition of anonymity. Six said they saw what they considered to be harassment, eight said they were uncomfortable with Rose's treatment of female employees, and 10 said they did not see or hear anything concerning.

"He was always professional with me," said Eleonore Marchand Mueller, a former assistant of Rose's who worked for him from 2003 to 2005. "I never witnessed any unprofessional incidents."