ABC News will not hire outside investigator for assault scandal
ABC News staff have been told there will be no outside investigation into the company’s handling of the sexual assault allegations against former “Good Morning America” lead producer Michael Corn.
Two people familiar with internal discussions at the Walt Disney Co. division have confirmed a report in the Wall Street Journal that current “GMA” executive producer Simone Swink told employees earlier this week that no investigation was taking place, despite previous comments from ABC News chairman Kim Godwin, calling for an investigation.
A lawsuit filed Aug. 25 by “GMA” producer Kirstyn Crawford accuses Corn of sexually assaulting her while on a business trip to Los Angeles in 2015. The complaint also describes another alleged incident involving Jill McClain , a woman who worked for him while he supervised “ABC World News.
Corn, who is now the news chairman of Nexstar Inc.’s NewsNation channel, has denied the lawsuit allegations.
After the prosecution was reported, Godwin said on a call with newsroom workers that she wanted an independent investigation into the case.
But Disney’s only public statement has been that the company is disputing the claims in the lawsuit and considering taking the case to court.
Based on Swink’s remarks, the company apparently decided to let the legal process go ahead before taking any internal action.
An ABC News representative declined to comment on the “GMA” meeting and the previous statement by Godwin, who joined the company in May after a long career at CBS.
According to people familiar with Swink’s remarks, Peter Rice, president of general entertainment content for Disney, told him and Godwin that he could not request an outside investigation into the company. Godwin’s division reports to Rice.
The lawsuit, which names Corn and ABC as defendants, alleges three network press officials failed to act after learning of Crawford’s issues with Corn in late 2017.
ABC conducted an internal investigation into the Crawford and McClain allegations after filing a formal complaint in February, according to the lawsuit, and terminated Corn in April. The company never gave a reason for Corn’s departure.
Disney is taking a different approach than some of the other media companies that have faced sexual harassment scandals in the #MeToo era.
During Godwin’s tenure at CBS, the company hired law firm Proskauer Rose to investigate allegations of sexual harassment against news anchor Charile Rose, who was fired in November 2017.
When Fox News was sued for sexual harassment in 2016 by former presenter Gretchen Carlson, the company brought in law firm Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison to investigate the allegations against its director. founding general, Roger Ailes, who was ousted. Carlson settled his dispute with Fox News for $ 20 million.
Paul, Weiss also investigated harassment allegations against former Fox News anchor Bill O’Reilly, who left the network in April 2017.