An ABC News producer filed a lawsuit Wednesday against former “Good Morning America” star producer Michael Corn, accusing him of sexual harassment and fostering a toxic work environment.
The bombshell suit filed in New York Supreme Court, which was first reported by the Wall Street Journal and confirmed by Fox News, alleges that the ex-ABC News figure assaulted “GMA” producer Kirstyn Crawford, 31, during a 2015 business trip to Los Angeles.
“While in an Uber to their hotel, Corn pulled Crawford’s head into his chest and began kissing her and rubbing her legs,” the lawsuit alleges. “Each time Crawford tried to pull away, Corn pulled her right back. Later that evening, after Crawford believed she had escaped to her hotel room, Corn came to Crawford’s room for the express purpose of attempting to have sex with her.”
The lawsuit also claimed Corn – who abruptly left ABC in April – sexually assaulted another ABC employee that reported to him, Jill McClain, who is not listed as a plaintiff. It alleges that Corm “assaulted McClain on two separate occasions—once on a redeye flight from Los Angeles to New York, and once in London—both times while traveling with McClain” for business.
“Corn groped McClain’s vagina over her jeans on an airplane, pinned her down on a hotel bed, pulled down the top of her jumpsuit, and fondled her bare breasts,” the lawsuit claims. “Both Plaintiff and McClain were traumatized and rendered incapable of reporting the incidents for fear of losing their jobs, since Corn was their supervisor.”
Corn denied all wrongdoing in a statement to the Wall Street Journal. “He said he would be defending himself ‘vigorously,’” the WSJ reported.
The suit also names ABC as a defendant, alleging the Disney-owned company failed to act after receiving complaints about the former “GMA” executive producer.
ABC denied the claims and plans to 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. ABC News disputes the claims made against it and will address this matter in court,” an ABC spokesperson told Fox News.
“Between 2010 and 2021, Corn also created and perpetuated a toxic work environment fraught with discrimination against and marginalization of women, including verbal and physical abuse and unwelcome sexualized comments and harassment,” the lawsuit alleges. “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 lawsuit claims that ABC “did nothing to protect Plaintiff or remove Corn from his position of power” and Crawford has reason to believe ABC was aware of other women who complained about him.
“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,” the suit claims.
Crawford currently works as a producer for George Stephanopoulos on “Good Morning America.”
“Corn claimed that it was unlikely that Stephanopoulos genuinely cared about Crawford’s career. But Corn assured Crawford that he, on the other hand, truly did care about her career,” the lawsuit alleges.
“In addition, Corn perpetuated a terrible bullying and drinking culture at ABC in which employees were peer-pressured into binge-drinking and belittled if they declined to participate in the drinking culture. ABC company parties were often alcohol-fueled and out-of-control,” the suit continues. “There have even been a few instances of ambulances being called to ABC company parties to attend to overly intoxicated staffers. Corn was often drunk at ABC holiday parties and would openly flirt with female staffers. Out of discomfort, Crawford stopped attending holiday parties after 2017, and Corn called out her absence in front of staff, claiming that she was not a team player.”
The detailed court filing including a variety of other claims by Crawford, all of which resulted in the ABC News producer feeling uncomfortable in the workplace. The suit claims Crawford informed Stephanopoulos of Corn’s alleged assault, but no action was taken.
A longtime ABC News insider told Fox News this is the latest example of dysfunction at ABC News.
“Disney says they’re focused on cleaning up the culture at ABC News, yet here we go again with top executives who are still covering up and silencing women,” the ABC News insider told Fox News on a condition of anonymity.
“Also we now know George Stephanopoulos was fully aware that his top producer was accused of sexual assault yet all he did was refer the accuser to managers who did not act, and the top producer remained in place for years,” the insider continued. “George should be ashamed of himself.”
The lawsuit alleges that Corn’s sudden April 2021 resignation came after an investigation of alleged wrongdoings.
“However, keeping in line with ABC’s culture of sweeping sexual assault under the rug to protect its brand, ABC did not publicly acknowledge Corn’s malfeasance. Instead, ABC announced the departure in a manner which made it appear to the other staff and employees at ABC that he was the victim of malicious and unfounded accusations. Media reporting suggested Corn resigned because he was passed over for promotion to president,” the lawsuit states.
Crawford is seeking damages to be determined at a trial by jury “for lost opportunities and to otherwise make Plaintiff whole for any losses suffered as a result of Defendants’ actions,” according to the suit.
Corn is now employed at Nexstar.
“We have no comment on anything that may or may not have happened prior to Mr. Corn’s employment with Nexstar,” Nexstar told the Wall Street Journal.