CNN is reporting that five women have come forward to level sexual harassment allegations against Mark Halperin.
The allegations span the time that Halperin was political director at ABC News.
According to the report, one woman was invited up to his ABC News office where "he just kissed me and grabbed my boobs," the woman said. "I just froze. I didn't know what to do." She described the encounter to a friend just after it happened.
Another described a similar experience:
"The first meeting I ever had with him was in his office and he just came up from behind -- I was sitting in a chair from across his desk -- and he came up behind me and [while he was clothed] he pressed his body on mine, his penis, on my shoulder," this woman told CNN. "I was obviously completely shocked. I can't even remember how I got out of there -- [but] I got out of there and was freaked out by that whole experience. Given I was so young and new I wasn't sure if that was the sort of thing that was expected of you if you wanted something from a male figure in news."
He didn't stop after that encounter, either. According to her, he would come up close to her and come on to her in a sexual way.
Halperin is denying the specifics in these allegations, but does not deny that he "did pursue relationships with women that [he] worked with, including some junior to [him]." In a statement to CNN, he apologized for his conduct and said he would be stepping back from his day-to-day work to "properly deal with the situation."
To me, the specifics sound completely credible. I don't know a woman who has spent any time in any number of workplaces who cannot describe encounters like this.
But wait, there's more!
A third woman describes this encounter:
"I excused myself to go to the bathroom and he was standing there when I opened the door propositioning [me] to go into the other bathroom to do something," she said. "It freaked me out. I came out of the ladies' room and he was just standing there. Like almost blocking the door."
The fourth woman says Halperin propositioned her. The fifth woman was reluctant to share her specific story, but said it involved him placing his erect penis against her while fully clothed without her consent.
The most frustrating part of these stories is hearing how powerless these women felt. They didn't think they could report it because he had too much power over them.
This quote breaks my heart. It comes from someone who had heard enough rumors about his conduct to believe they could have reported it. "In retrospect, I was such a coward," the person said. "I wish I said something. I wish I had done something."
Me too. Countless women have put up with this kind of treatment as they advanced in their careers. It was never enough to be really good at your job. You were also expected to look "hot" and to put up with whatever anyone wanted to do.
My first boss was a 60-year old man who expected to get free feels whenever he wanted. I was a scared little 18-year old with her first office job. It was the 70s. You just put up with it, because he was the boss and you were a clerk. It didn't get better as things advanced. Financial services, entertainment, political punditry -- it happens everywhere.
Let's hope the sunlight really does disinfect this time. After all, Trump wasn't penalized for it. Woman after woman came forward only to be disbelieved and discredited. Even his own words on a tape bragging about how he harassed and assaulted women didn't matter.
I hope it will matter this time and every time going forward.
Update: Brian Tashman reminds that Halperin dismissed the sexual assault claims about Trump, instead claiming they would "bolster Trump's brand." No, really.
MARK HALPERIN: I will comment on this in the spirit of Reince Priebus. If that's the best they got on these issues and Donald Trump, Donald Trump should be celebrating that story. There's some troubling things in the piece, but there's nothing illegal, there's nothing even kind of like beyond boorish or politically incorrect, which is built into the Donald Trump brand. So, if that's the best they have in this score, Donald Trump can celebrate this story politically.