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Alyssa Milano Calls for Accountability, Rehabilitation ‘Protocol’ Amid John Lasseter Backlash

”What are we going to do to make sure he knows that’s not going to happen here and we won’t allow that to happen and make sure he’s aware of that?“ actress and #MeToo activist tells TheWrap

Alyssa Milano says Hollywood should hold abusers accountable while also allowing for the possibility of rehabilitation, after former Pixar head John Lasseter scored a lucrative new Hollywood job at Skydance Animation, leading to a backlash within the industry.

Lasseter, once the most powerful name in animation, was ousted by Disney in November 2017 after multiple complaints about unwanted touching in the workplace.

“We have to start figuring out how to hold people accountable and shape what that looks like within the industry and then allow them to prove that they are rehabilitated,” the actress and #MeToo activist told TheWrap in an exclusive interview. “We cannot strip people of their livelihoods.”

“As long as companies are going into this with ironclad contracts that don’t allow for any misconduct, people should be given an opportunity to prove themselves and to work their way back into their industry and to society,” she added.

Milano was careful to note that rehabilitation should only be offered to non-violent offenders. “The realistic approach is, someone had complaints, he has clearly abused his authority. What are we going to do to make sure he knows that’s not going to happen here and we won’t allow that to happen and make sure he’s aware of that? As long as it’s not a violent criminal offense,” she said.

Still, Milano’s comments were a noticeable departure from other activists and major women’s groups, including TimesUp and Women In Film, who condemned Skydance Animation for hiring Lasseter despite his admitted misconduct.

In a statement Wednesday, TimesUp said his hiring “endorses and perpetuates a broken system that allows powerful men to act without consequence.”

WIF also issued a rebuke, as it called for more “transparency.”

“By saying Skydance has conducted an independent investigation and then proceed to hire Lasseter, do they mean to suggest that they are hiring him in spite of the numerous accounts of women and colleagues? We do think that people can learn and change, and we look forward to men who model this, but true reparation requires transparency,” WIF said.

In 2017, multiple women accused Lasseter of frequently making a habit of “grabbing, kissing, making comments about physical attributes” of women at the company. Lasseter apologized for what he called “missteps” that left some female employees feeling “disrespected or uncomfortable.” He then took a leave of absence from Disney but never returned, announcing in June that he would retire instead.

Lasseter, whose credits include “Toy Story,” “Cars” and “Frozen,” is one of the first industry executives accused of sexual misconduct to return to a Hollywood power job.

But his reentry came with an asterisk. Variety reported this week that Lasseter’s new contract with Skydance Media contained special “ironclad” provisions that would make him financially responsible for any legal claims involving sexual harassment. But the details of the contract are unknown.

Lasseter’s hiring, Milano said, is forcing women’s rights groups and Hollywood itself to grapple with how best to handle the inevitable reintegration of #MeToo era offenders.

“This is going to happen now,” she said. “So what are we doing as an organization and a movement to ensure that when this does happen, women are fully protected at the workplace?”

“There are a lot of gray areas,” she added. “This isn’t only black and white. I think within the gray area is where the most growth and the most precedent will live. It would be wise for all of the groups that are fighting for the same thing to come together and to figure out what the protocol is for someone to come back into the workplace after they’ve been accused of abuse.”