Disney-owned ABC tried and failed to mediate with sexual assault accusers in June before they took their accusations public last week, according to a new report in the Wall Street Journal.
Producer Kirstyn Crawford filed a suit last week accusing former “Good Morning America” boss Michael Corn of assault. Jill McClain, another ABC staffer, is not a plaintiff in the case, but is supporting Crawford and accused Corn of assaulting her, too.
A representative for ABC did not immediately return a request for comment on the report that Disney and ABC tried to mediate with the women this summer. Crawford alleged last week that ABC was aware of her accusation but did nothing. Corn left the network in April and went to Nexstar. He vehemently denies the accusations and Nexstar says it has no comment on them.
Per the Journal, the mediation attempt came after Disney concluded an internal investigation into claims against Corn. He departed in April, the same month Kim Godwin became president of ABC News. According to the paper, Godwin told staffers last Thursday that she wants an independent investigation into the claims against Corn because, “We can’t have us investigating us. We need an independent person.”
“Both Plaintiff and McClain were traumatized and rendered incapable of reporting the incidents for fear of losing their jobs, since Corn was their supervisor,” says the complaint, which was filed last Wednesday and also accuses Corn of creating a toxic workplace by discriminating against and verbally and physically harassing women.
“I vehemently deny any allegations that I engaged in improper sexual contact with another woman,” Corn said in a statement through his lawyer. “I will be pursing all available legal remedies against these women and defending myself vigorously.”
To counter Crawford’s claims, Corn also released six emails he said came from Crawford just hours after the alleged assault, asking for his hotel room number on the trip in question, offering to bring him coffee and twice inviting him to share a car when he said they had been in separate cars the day before. “The same day she emailed me, after I helped counsel her through a work problem, ‘why are you so great?’ These are not the words and actions of a woman who had been assaulted hours before,” he said.
He also dismissed McClain’s “equally as fabricated” accusations. “After I allegedly touched her on an airplane, Jill repeatedly booked our future air travel to sit next to me, she invited me to her wedding — including a pre-wedding event that was limited to her immediate family and closest friends — and she repeatedly communicated to me and my wife that she missed me after leaving her position at ABC,” he said.
Crawford’s lawyer did not address the legitimacy of the emails released by Corn, but told TheWrap, “The complaint is truthful and accurate, and for both Kirstyn, and Jill, who is supporting her, the healing process has begun.”
Crawford is also suing ABC for its “inactions” regarding Crawford and McClain, claiming that networks executives knew about the substance of the accusations but did nothing. “Despite the silencing effect the abuse had on Plaintiff, McClain, and others, ABC knew or should have known that Corn had a propensity to sexually harass female colleagues and that he perpetuated a hostile work environment at ABC,” the suit says.