A former NBC college intern claims that a media honcho who most recently served as a top executive at CNN sexually assaulted her while they were covering the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta, according to a shocking new lawsuit.
Aarthi Rajaraman, now 47, claims that during a three-week stint as a NBC production assistant, Michael Bass — then a “Today” show coordinating producer assigned to Olympics coverage — lured her to a hotel room and assaulted her, according to a lawsuit filed in Manhattan Supreme Court Thursday, which also names the network’s parent company, NBC/Universal Media.
Numerous senior NBC employees had been fooling around with younger staffers at the time, Rajaraman claimed in the suit.
In July 1996, Rajaraman, at the time a 20-year-old college sophomore, was heading home at 5 a.m. following dinner and drinks with Bass and their team when she needed to use the bathroom.
Rajaraman claims she was “tricked” by her boss to go use the toilet in his hotel suite, where she believed his wife and newborn were staying, according to court papers.
But she soon realized she was alone with her boss in the hotel room as Bass “began kissing and groping her without her consent” before “putting his hands up her shirt and down her skirt,” according to court documents.
Later that day, Bass, then known as as a “superstar” and “up and comer” at NBC, called and threatened Rajamaran, saying “Don’t tell anyone,” the suit alleges.
Bass would go on to roles as senior executive producer for CBS News’ morning shows, and until last year, CNN’s executive vice president of programming, where he also served as interim co-head of the network following the ouster of former president Jeff Zucker.
In retaliation for Rajaraman rejecting his advances, her former boss “blackballed” her, pulling strings to ensure she was rejected from multiple job opportunities in New York City, according to the suit.
Rajaraman has since worked with a range of networks and outlets since her internship, including CNN, HBO and CBS, according to an online biography.
The suit has been brought under the Adult Survivors Act, passed by New York state lawmakers in 2022, which gives adult victims of sexual abuse a one-year period — ending in November — to file civil suits that previously were outside of the statute of limitations.
“Today, we celebrate the Adult Survivors Act, which has given my client the opportunity to seek justice for the alleged assault that she suffered,” said Rajaraman’s attorney, Meagan Goddard.
Rajaraman, who declined to comment through her attorney, is seeking compensatory and punitive damages “commensurate with that life-altering trauma that she experienced in 1996.”
An NBC spokesperson said the company is reviewing the complaint.
Bass did not respond to requests for comment.
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