Former CBS entertainment reporter Kenneth Lombardi sued CBS and two of his previous bosses on Thursday, alleging that they inappropriately and sexually touched him.
In charges filed in Manhattan Federal Court, the 29-year-old reporter claims that CBS senior producer Duane Tollison kissed his neck and grabbed his crotch during a 2013 CBS News holiday party, NY Daily News reported.
The suit says that Tollison “slid his hand down Plaintiff Lombardi’s pants and grabbed Plaintiff’s penis and testicles,” New York Post reported.
According to the suit, Tollison wrote to Lombardi the day after the party: “I wanted to apologize if anything I did offended you or crossed a line. I like to get a little crazy. If you weren’t offended, then let’s do it again. LOL How is your day so far? :)”
On May 8, 2014, Lombardi says he spoke with CBS Evening News director Albert (Chip) Colley for professional advice. Lombardi alleges that Colley got drunk at a gay bar — Hardware — in Hell’s Kitchen and hit on him instead of giving him a professional review of his celebrity interviews.
In the suit, Lombardi alleges that Colley sent text messages to him with links to porn sites, kissed him and rubbed his leg. The documents also state: “Colley told (Lombardi) that he did not really believe being bisexual was real and told plaintiff that he was actually completely gay.”
“While I was being attacked by Chip, I was texting my brother, ‘Oh, my God, I’m about to be raped. Please, God, help me,'” Lombardi told New York Post. “It’s painful to even look at them again.”
“He would show up in my office. I’d catch him following me in the hallway, exhibiting predatory behavior,” Lombardi said.
Following the alleged encounters, Lombardi says he has developed signs of post-traumatic stress disorder; he also admitted to having nightmares and panic attacks.
“The sound of ice hitting glass will trigger an episode — all of a sudden I’m back in that bar being assaulted by Chip again,” Lombardi said.
Lombardi allegedly reported the incidents to the human resources department, but says they were met with retaliation. He singled out CBS News entertainment department manager Paula Cohen in the suit for tormenting him following the complaint.
“You know you’re really p—ing me off!” Cohen allegedly yelled at Lombardi. She is also named in the suit.
“Cohen would smile and say ‘no’ as if defendant Cohen was amused by the torment she was causing plaintiff Lombardi,” documents state.
The papers state that Lombardi was forced to quit in November. CBS is also listed as a defendant.
CBS Interactive spokeswoman Annie Rohrs said, “While CBS takes all allegations of workplace misconduct seriously, we believe Mr. Lombardi’s claims are without merit and we intend to vigorously defend this lawsuit.”