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ABC News staff member claims Disney-owned network hit back after exposing sexual harassment accusation

An ABC News employee claims the Disney-owned network did not offer him a contract extension in retaliation after accusing a former senior executive of sexual harassment.

Last month, “GMA” producer Kirstyn Crawford filed a lawsuit against former “Good Morning America” ​​star producer Michael Corn, accusing him of sexual harassment and fostering a toxic work environment. Corn has denied any wrongdoing.

An ABC News employee claims the Disney-owned network did not offer him a contract extension in retaliation after accusing a former high-profile network executive of sexual harassment. (REUTERS / Aly Song)
(REUTERS / Aly Chanson / Photo Illustration)

Crawford, who filed an amended version of the bombing lawsuit in New York’s Supreme Court on Wednesday, now claims ABC News punished her for speaking out.

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The amended version claims that Crawford’s contract as a producer for “Good Morning America” ​​presenter George Stephanopoulos was not renewed after she spoke out against the network’s handling of her complaints.

“After Crawford complained about Corn’s sexual harassment and a hostile work environment at ABC, ABC retaliated against her by not offering her the job security and pay rise she deserved,” asserts the complaint.

The complaint claims Crawford signed a three-year contract in 2018 and the Disney-owned network “generally” seeks to negotiate a new deal “at least a few months” before the contract expires. The complaint notes that a salary increase is usually included.

“However, after Crawford filed the formal complaint in February 2021, ABC delayed communication with Crawford regarding a new contract,” the complaint states. “It wasn’t until July 2021, about four months after Crawford filed the formal complaint, and just a month before his 2018 contract expired, that ABC contacted Crawford about his expiring contract. Instead of offering Crawford an additional three-year contract, ABC simply offered a six-month extension and didn’t even offer a nominal pay increase. “

Disney and ABC News did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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Crawford still works at ABC News, without a contract, according to the Wall Street Journal.

“ABC knew, or should have known, of the sexual harassment and did not take corrective action for many years,” the lawsuit alleges.

The lawsuit also claimed that Corn – who abruptly left ABC in April – sexually assaulted another ABC employee who reported to him, Jill McClain, who is not on the plaintiff list. He alleges that Corm “assaulted McClain twice – once on a red-eye flight from Los Angeles to New York and once in London – both times while traveling with McClain” on business.

ABC knew or should have known that Corn had a propensity to sexually harass female colleagues and that he perpetuated a work environment hostile to ABC. As early as 2017, ABC learned of Corn’s sexual assault on the plaintiff. Yet ABC did nothing to protect the plaintiff or remove Corn from his position of power, “the complaint states.” Indeed, the plaintiff has reason to believe that ABC was also aware of other women who complained about But. Instead, ABC looked away and raised Corn through the ranks due to his commercial success as a producer. “

The lawsuit continued, “ABC facilitated the hostile workplace that Corn cultivated through his influence over the careers of his subordinates, sexual harassment, gas lighting, and verbal and physical abuse. As a result, the complainant suffers from psychological trauma and a blocked trajectory towards his nascent career at ABC. ”

ABC last month rejected the initial claims and plans to process them in court.

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“We are committed to maintaining a safe and supportive work environment and have a process in place that thoroughly reviews and deals with complaints filed. ABC News is disputing the allegations made against it and will address this matter in court,” said to Fox an ABC spokesperson. New.

The lawsuit alleges Corn’s sudden resignation in April 2021 came after an investigation into alleged wrongdoing. Corn has denied any wrongdoing

“” I vehemently deny any allegation that I had inappropriate sexual contact with another woman. Kirsten Crawford’s claims are patently false, ”he said in a statement last month. “McClain’s allegations are equally fabricated… I will pursue all available legal remedies against these women and defend myself vigorously.

Crawford is asking for damages to be determined at a jury trial “for lost opportunities and for the plaintiff to be free from any loss suffered as a result of the defendants’ actions … for humiliation, mental anguish, emotional distress and harm to reputation “, according to costume.

ABC News star George Stephanopoulos knew a top producer was accused of sexual harassment, but continued to work with him, according to a lawsuit.

ABC News star George Stephanopoulos knew a top producer was accused of sexual harassment, but continued to work with him, according to a lawsuit.

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A longtime ABC News insider told Fox News last month that Stephanopoulos “should be ashamed of himself” for his role in the emerging scandal. The lawsuit alleges he learned of the allegations in 2017, but Corn remained the executive producer of “Good Morning America” ​​and worked directly with Stephanopoulos until his sudden resignation in April 2021.

“Disney says they are focusing on cleaning up the culture at ABC News, but here we are again with senior executives who continue to cover up and silence women,” the ABC News insider told Fox News . “We also now know that George Stephanopoulos was fully aware that his best producer was accused of sexual assault, but all he did was fire the accuser to managers who failed to act, and the best producer has remained in place for years. ”

Disney has since come under pressure to conduct a full and independent investigation into how ABC News handled the alleged incidents.

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