ABC News Stars Get Swept Up in Lawsuit Fallout

Good Morning America co-hosts George Stephanopoulos and Robin Roberts have become ensnared in the drama inside ABC over how the network handled sexual assault allegations against the morning show’s former executive producer, the Daily Beast reports

A lawsuit filed last week by Kirstyn Crawford, who currently serves as Stephanopoulos’ producer on GMA, claims former EP Michael Corn sexually assaulted her in 2015 and, a few years earlier, assaulted former ABC News producer Jill McClain. Crawford also named ABC as a defendant, claiming that the network knew about the alleged assault of Crawford as early as 2017 but didn’t launch an investigation until she, along with McClain, filed a formal complaint in February 2021—inaction that, according to the suit, breaks with company policy requiring executives to open an investigation upon learning of the alleged misconduct. Corn has strongly denied the allegations and reportedly called them fabrications; ABC disputes the claims against it and said it would fight them in court.

Given that Stephanopoulos, according to the suit, learned of Crawford’s sexual assault allegations from a third party nearly four years ago and continued to work with Corn until he was pushed out earlier this year, staffers are reportedly wondering whether the anchor could have done more—including, apparently, his co-host. “If this happened to someone on my team, I would have burned the place down,” Roberts told GMA staffers on a team-wide call, a remark perceived as “unsubtly directed at Stephanopoulos,” according to the Daily Beast. Sources told the outlet that Roberts is “incensed” about both the network’s handling of the accusations and Stephanopoulos’ perceived inaction—feelings she has reportedly vocalized to bosses in recent days—and that Stephanopoulos was “livid” upon learning what Roberts had said on the call.

An ABC News spokesperson told the Daily Beast that “Robin and George are fine” and Roberts “told him personally that she wasn’t referring to him and called the team the next day to reiterate that her comment was not about any one individual.” But the alleged tension speaks to the broader frustration felt among staff in the fallout of the suit, which claims that several other women at ABC reported complaints about Corn’s “toxic and abusive behavior” over the years but that the network chose to ignore the pattern and even elevate his role. As one source recently told CNN, “There is a lot of anger and confusion and people wanting to understand what happened.”

ABC News President Kim Godwin, who took the reins in April, called last week for an independent investigation into how the allegations against Corn were handled by the network, telling staffers on a conference call that “we can’t have us investigating us.” But the network and Disney, its parent company, now face additional scrutiny after the Wall Street Journal revealed Monday that executives tried to keep the claims quiet before they surfaced in last week’s suit. Disney and ABC “held unsuccessful mediation talks in June” with both Crawford and McClain, the Journal reports, talks that came after Disney had wrapped up its probe into their claims against Corn.

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