A disturbing sexual assault allegation made against former talk show host Geraldo Rivera in 1991 has resurfaced after the Fox News contributor wrote on Twitter that women should be required to follow certain guidelines before making accusations of assault. Rivera had made the controversial recommendations while reacting to the news that Matt Lauer harassed a female intern and assaulted a female colleague after locking her in his office using a special button fixed underneath his desk.
But Rivera’s seeming concern over Lauer’s fate, and his recommendations that victims be barred from speaking out about sexual harassment after five years, might also be interpreted as a way of pre-emptively defending himself. In 1991, after Rivera published his memoir, Exposing Myself, he detailed what he vaguely described as an encounter with singer and actress Bette Midler — an encounter he claimed later led to a “torrid sexual affair.”
“We were in the bathroom, preparing for the interview, and at some point I put my hands on her breasts,” wrote Rivera, according to The Washington Post.
On Thursday, however, Midler tweeted out an excerpt of her 1991 interview with Barbara Walters, in which she denied engaging in sexual relations with Rivera. “I’m going to get in trouble,” Midler warned Walters, when she was asked about what happened during her first introduction to Rivera. But after Walters insisted, Midler shared what she described as a patently non-consensual encounter.
“Geraldo and his producer came to do an interview with me, in the ‘70s, in the early ‘70s,” said Midler. “This was when he was very hot. He and his producer left the crew in the other room, they pushed me into my bathroom, they pushed two poppers under my nose, and proceeded to grope me … I did not offer myself up on the altar of Geraldo Rivera. He was unseemly.”
And if such behavior is Rivera’s idea of being “flirty,” perhaps that would explain why he appears so eager to discourage women from speaking out about sexual harassment and assault.
Watch video of the interview, which was shared by Midler herself, below.
On Thursday, amid a fierce backlash to his remarks, Rivera turned to Twitter once again — this time to “humbly apologize.”
Read the full story at Jezebel.