Michael Corn, the former top producer at ABC’s “Good Morning America” who exited the company in April, has been accused of sexual assault by two women. In May, he was named president of news for Nexstar’s NewsNation.
Kirstyn Crawford, a producer for “GMA,” filed a suit against Corn and ABC in New York on Wednesday, alleging that he sexually assaulted her in 2015 and created a toxic work environment. The suit further alleges that another ABC News producer, Jill McClain, was sexually assaulted by Corn about a decade ago. McClain is not suing, but is supporting Crawford in her case. The complaint says McClain was assaulted twice. All three instances referenced in the lawsuit took place on work trips.
“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 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.
“As early as 2017, ABC learned of Corn’s sexual assault on Plaintiff. Yet ABC did nothing to protect Plaintiff or remove Corn from his position of power,” the complaint says. “Indeed, Plaintiff has reason to believe that ABC was also aware of other women who complained against Corn. Instead, ABC looked the other way, elevated Corn through the ranks due to his commercial success as a producer, and facilitated the hostile workplace that Corn cultivated through his influence over subordinates’ careers, sexual harassment, gaslighting, and anger management issues. As a result, Plaintiff suffers from psychological trauma and a stalled trajectory to her budding career at ABC.”
A spokesperson for ABC said in a statement, “We are committed to upholding a safe and supportive work environment and have a process in place that thoroughly reviews and addresses complaints that are made. ABC News disputes the claims made against it and will address this matter in court.”
A representative for Nexstar, which owns NewsNation, told TheWrap, “We have no comment on anything that may or may not have happened prior to Mr. Corn’s employment with Nexstar.”