(born October 5
) is an American anchor
. Most recently he was a correspondent for the syndicated entertainment programs Entertainment Tonight
and The Insider
. Previously, Roberts worked as a news anchor for CNN Headline News
Childhood and education
Born Thomas Albert Roberts
, he grew up in Towson, Maryland
and attended Calvert Hall
, a Catholic high school in nearby Baltimore
. In 1994, he graduated from Western Maryland College
(now McDaniel College
) with a major in Communication and a minor in Journalism.
After college, Roberts got his first job reporting for a small cable station in Westminster, Maryland
. He then moved to San Diego, California and worked as writer/field producer for NBC affiliate KNSD
before relocating to Nebraska, where he worked as a general assignment reporter with ABC affiliate KLKN-TV
in Lincoln, Nebraska
He went on to become a nightly news anchor and investigative reporter for FOX affiliate WFTX-TV in Fort Myers, Florida and later for NBC affiliate WAVY-TV in Portsmouth-Norfolk-Virginia Beach, Virginia. At WAVY-TV, he co-anchored an afternoon newscast and was also the station's investigative/consumer correspondent.
Roberts joined CNN
in December 2001 and was based in Atlanta
. Roberts was a weekend overnight anchor on Headline News
and provided Prime NewsBreaks. Previously at Headline News, Roberts co-anchored with Judy Fortin
, Sophia Choi
and Kathleen Kennedy
. He co-anchored the network's coverage of the shuttle Columbia tragedy in 2003 and its ongoing Iraq war coverage. He received an Emmy nomination in 2002 for his investigation into a local puppy mill that was eventually shut down due to his reporting, according to CNN.
Roberts resigned from CNN on May 1, 2007, to settle in the Washington, D.C. area and pursue "new journalistic opportunities".
Shortly after Roberts joined The Insider, reports surfaced that several nude photographs, reportedly of the anchor, were posted in a profile on the gay dating website Manhunt.net. Though Roberts did not publicly acknowledge the incident at the time, in a May 2008 interview in The Advocate, the former anchor stated, “I never put inappropriate pictures of myself on a public website. For me it was really hurtful, for [my boyfriend] Patrick and I it was terribly painful, and I’m sure anyone reading this will realize that what happened was something that we needed to deal with on a personal level. And we’ve dealt with it—we’ve closed the book on that issue and moved on.”
Victim of sexual abuse
In 2005, after years of silence, Roberts came forward to testify against Jerome F. Toohey Jr., a former priest who had abused him when he was a student at Calvert Hall College High School
. Fr. Toohey pled guilty to the sexual abuse charges and received a five year jail sentence with all but 18 months suspended in February 2006. Toohey served only 10 months before his sentence was converted in December with the remaining eight months to be served in home detention. Roberts discussed his abuse in a special segment on CNN's Anderson Cooper 360
called "Sins of the Father" on March 12
Sexual orientation and coming out
Roberts publicly acknowledged that he is gay
while speaking at the annual convention of the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association
, which was held on 8 September 2006
. His comments were first made public by journalist Johnny Diaz
, a staff reporter on the Boston Globe
's living/arts section who attended the conference and wrote about it on his blog, Beantown Cuban
. Diaz's report quickly was picked up by major gay media outlets Gay.com
and the website of the gay news magazine The Advocate
. The report also was cited on Canada.com.
Along with Craig Stevens, a co-anchor of Miami's Channel 7, and other local gay anchors, Roberts was a member of a panel called "Off Camera: The Challenge of LGBT TV Anchors." He told the audience that the conference was the "biggest step" he had taken to really be out in public and that he had slowly been coming out at CNN over the past several years.
Diaz reported that Roberts, who has been a member of NLGJA since 2005, said he was proud of his partner, who was apparently unnamed, and that staying in the closet was a difficult thing for a national news anchor. "When you hold something back, that's all everyone wants to know", Diaz quoted Roberts as saying.
On 15 September 2006, Christie Keith, a reporter with the website AfterElton.com, published an interview with Roberts, who stated that he actually came out to coworkers in 1999, when he was living in Norfolk, Virginia. "I was happy, I was in a relationship, and I was very proud. I had the support of family, and of my friends. It was … about not wasting any more time. I'd wasted enough time." He further commented, on the subject of coming out, "Hopefully, everyone, gay or straight, journalists or doctors or otherwise, can overcome that obstacle, because it stands in the way of you being the best you can be, with your job, with your family, with everything, and not have to be afraid anymore."
Roberts also told Keith that he had been approached in 2005 by People magazine to be one of the publication's 50 Sexiest Bachelors, but he declined. "I'm not a bachelor. I thought it would be false advertising... [And] I didn't think it was the right venue to talk about it."
Roberts has been in a relationship with his partner, Patrick D. Abner since at least 1999, according to the afterelton.com interview and celebrated their anniversary on 30 September 2006.