Several ABC News staffers have come forward with allegations of sexual assault against former “Good Morning America” host, Michael Corn. In a lawsuit filed on August 25, 2021, ABC News producer Kirstyn Crawford alleges that Corn sexually assaulted her on a work trip. Crawford is backed by similar claims of assault from former producer, Jill McClain.
ABC News and Disney hit with lawsuit alleging failure to protect employees from assault
Content warning: sexual assault
The New York Times reports that ABC News producer Kirstyn Crawford is accusing former Senior Executive Producer Michael Corn of sexually assaulting her in an Uber and at a hotel during a reporting trip in 2015. Former producer Jill McClain also bravely joined Crawford in speaking out with allegations against Corn, stating that, among other things, he kissed and touched her without consent during business trips in 2010 and 2011. While not a named plaintiff, McClain’s testimony was included in the lawsuit in support of Crawford’s allegations. The lawsuit states that both Crawford and McClain were “traumatized and rendered incapable of reporting the incidents for fear of losing their jobs, since Corn was their supervisor.” Corn has denied any wrongdoing, but abruptly resigned following the allegations.
According to the lawsuit, which names both Walt Disney Co., and its’ ABC News unit as defendants, the company failed to take appropriate disciplinary action against Corn, even though officials supposedly knew of his behavior as far back as 2017. The lawsuit further asserts that Corn’s inappropriate and pervasive behavior, which included sexual, verbal, and physical abuse, created a “hostile workplace culture” for female employees. ABC News President Kim Godwin has since called for an independent investigation to further look into claims of sexual misconduct at the company, reports the Wall Street Journal.
Many ABC News employees frustrated by the company’s response to claims of sexual harassment
In the wake of the unsettling allegations, NBC News interviewed a number of current ABC News employees who explained that they are growing increasingly frustrated with how the company undermines women who report harassment. One anonymous employee remarked: “Women are questioning why they are still at ABC because they are all so disgusted. It’s a company they don’t want to work for anymore.” The employee added that “morale is low.”
Media companies increasingly called out for allowing toxic workplace cultures, failing to provide a safe environment
The Washington Post notes that in the era of the #MeToo movement, major corporations and executives such as Fox News and Harvey Weinstein have come under fire for promoting or engaging in a culture of sexual harassment. In other words, the recent allegations against ABC News, which is owned by Disney, may be seen as part of a larger trend of powerful companies failing to provide a safe, harassment-free environment for all employees.
It can be extremely daunting to speak out about sexual assault, and individuals who work in settings with established hierarchies and potentially toxic power dynamics may feel especially fearful about challenging the status quo. Employees may fear for their jobs, reputation, or safety if they publicly come forward.
Whether you choose to share your story with others or not, we want survivors to know that they shouldn’t have to stand for toxic and non-consensual treatment in the workplace, or anywhere else.
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Our firm's experience representing survivors of sexual assault
Gibbs Law Group’s award-winning sexual assault attorneys represent survivors across the country. Our team is committed to empowering sexual assault survivors to regain control, achieve justice and begin to heal. We recently obtained a $73 million settlement on behalf of former patients of UCLA gynecologist Dr. James Heaps, who was accused of sexual abuse and misconduct. We are also currently investigating sexual abuse claims at Berkeley High School and the Washington Football Team.
Our attorneys have received numerous honors for their work, including “Top Women Lawyers in California,” “Top Plaintiff Lawyers in California,” “Consumer Protection MVP,” “Best Lawyers in America,” and “Class Action Practice Group of the Year.”