Sunday, 19 Sep 2021

Former ‘Good Morning America’ Producer Accused of Sexual Assault in Lawsuit

A producer at the ABC News program “Good Morning America” accused Michael Corn, a former senior executive producer of the show, of sexually assaulting her and creating a toxic work environment in a lawsuit filed Wednesday against Mr. Corn and ABC.

Kirstyn Crawford said in the lawsuit that Mr. Corn sexually assaulted her in 2015 during a work trip to Los Angeles to cover the Academy Awards. Mr. Corn denied the allegations in a statement on Wednesday.

In the suit, which was filed in New York State court, Ms. Crawford said Mr. Corn had assaulted her during an Uber ride and in a hotel. The assaults traumatized Ms. Crawford, a producer for George Stephanopoulos on “Good Morning America,” and caused her career to stall, according to the complaint.

The suit also names ABC, which is owned by the Walt Disney Company, because its executives “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,” according to the filing.

In the suit, Ms. Crawford accused Mr. Corn of also sexually assaulting Jill McClain, a former ABC News producer, while working with her a decade ago at “World News Tonight.” Ms. McClain is not a plaintiff in the case but allowed her account to be used as part of the lawsuit “in support of Crawford,” the complaint said.

In a statement provided by his lawyer, Mr. Corn said, “I vehemently deny any allegations that I engaged in improper sexual contact with another woman.” He added that he “will be pursuing all available legal remedies against these women and defending myself vigorously.” He called Ms. Crawford’s allegations “demonstrably false” and said Ms. McClain’s accusations were “equally as fabricated.”

The lawsuit also accused Mr. Corn of fostering a work environment that allowed women to be discriminated against and marginalized. The Wall Street Journal reported earlier on the suit.

“For both Kirstyn and Jill, who is supporting her, the healing process has begun,” Milton L. Williams, the lawyer representing the two women, said in a statement. He said the women declined to comment.

Ms. Crawford and Mr. Corn worked together at ABC News headquarters in New York. He left the network in April. In May, he joined Nexstar Media Group as the president of news at its national cable network, NewsNation, formerly WGN America. Nexstar said in a statement that it had “no comment on anything that may or may not have happened prior to Mr. Corn’s employment with Nexstar.”

In the suit, Ms. Crawford said ABC executives were aware of her allegation against Mr. Corn in 2017. She added that ABC did not investigate the matter until she and Ms. McClain made formal complaints to ABC through their lawyers in February this year.

In November 2017, Mr. Stephanopoulos told Ms. Crawford that he had heard about the alleged sexual assault, urged her to report it and informed ABC executives and a lawyer for the network of the accusation, according to the lawsuit. Mr. Stephanopoulos said in an email that the account was accurate and that he had no further comment.

ABC News disputed the lawsuit’s claims and said in a statement that it would address them in court.

“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,” the company said.

“Good Morning America” is a lucrative program for ABC as the top-rated morning news show and a consistent winner of Emmy Awards. Mr. Corn joined the program in 2014 after heading “World News Tonight.”

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