A news producer working with ABC News, who has worked for 'Good Morning America' for years, has alleged that a former top executive of the show sexually abused her and another female employee and created a "toxic" work culture that was hostile toward women, according to a lawsuit filed on Wednesday.
Kirstyn Crawford, 31, an anchor producer for George Stephanopoulos on "GMA," has claimed that the show's then-senior executive producer Michael Corn had sexually assaulted her at a party and the network did neither reprimand nor punish him despite her making an official complaint.
In a suit filed in the Supreme Court of the State of New York, Crawford, alleged that Corn sexually assaulted her and another staffer, Jill McClain, on different occasions over a span of several years. Both Crawford and McClain reported to Corn.
On one occasion, Corn sexually abused her after a work party when he was drunk, according to the lawsuit. The incident allegedly took place in February 2015 when Crawford was in Los Angeles with the team to cover the Academy Awards.
Crawford mentions in the lawsuit that Corn sexually assaulted McClain in 2010 and 2011. She came to know about it after the two women exchanged stories early this year. Following that they decided to report the assaults to ABC in February, the court papers reveal.
Crawford claims that ABC knew about Corn's nature and that he used to sexually abuse female colleagues but did nothing. "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 alleges.
"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. 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."
Fired at Last
Although Crawford claims that ABC didn't take any action despite knowing everything, Corn was finally forced to resign following the official complaint. Corn, who'd managed "GMA" since 2014, resigned in April and left abruptly, stunning some staffers, The Variety reported.
Crawford claims that the incident still traumatizes her. In the 2015 incident, Crawford called an Uber to go back to the hotel after the other staffers left to continue the party at another location. But to her "surprise, Corn then joined Crawford in the Uber," the suit alleges.
While sitting next to her in the cab, Corn "grabbed Crawford's hand and told her that he wanted to be able to help her with her career," the court papers say. He then almost by force pulled her head "into his chest and kept telling her to 'just relax' and kept asking 'why are you so tense?'" the lawsuit mentions.
Crawford tried to resist but Corn then forcibly kissed her and rubbed her legs as she tried to "pull away" several times while he "pulled her right back." However, that was not the end. When the two reached the hotel, Corn pretended to lose his room key in a "devious ploy" to get into Crawford's room. A tensed Crawford then decided to accompany Corn to his room, in an attempt to not show him where her room was.
Once Corn entered the room, Crawford sat on the corner of his bed when the predator got aggressive. He "pulled her down onto the bed and pulled her head onto his chest" and then started kissing the top of her head, petting her hair and stroking her arm, the court papers reveal.
Crawford pleaded with Corn to leave her and somehow managed to slip and rushed back to her room.
Similarly in 2010, he assaulted McClain on a flight from Los Angeles to New York. Corn who was seated next to McClain, rubbed her "upper right thigh with his left hand" and then "slid his hand from McClain's upper right thigh to her vagina," and began to rub "her vagina, over her jeans," the suit alleges.
Then in April 2011 he once again barged in McClain's hotel room and sexually assaulted her. The two were with the network's team in London covering Prince William and Kate Middleton's wedding, when Corn got drunk and assaulted McClain.
Corn however, has denied the allegations. In a statement provided by his attorney, Elizabeth Locke, Corn said that the allegations made against him were untrue. "I vehemently deny any allegations that I engaged in improper sexual contact with another woman," he said, alleging that Crawford's claims "are demonstrably false."