A 26-month-long legal battle between ABC News, former GMA executive producer Michael Corn and former GMA producer Kirstyn Crawford appears to have been resolved.
According to the Wall Street Journal, ABC News filed a stipulation of “dismissal with prejudice” on Friday in New York state court of Crawford’s sexual harassment lawsuit against ABC News and Corn, a former World News Tonight and Good Morning America executive producer. Crawford accused Corn of sexual harassment during a 2015 business trip to cover the Oscars in Los Angeles. She alleged that the incidents took place in an Uber ride after a party, and later at their hotel.
According to the Journal, Crawford’s team also signed the filing, which means that the prosecutor cannot refile the charges.
The lawsuit, filed by Crawford in August 2021, has been dismissed for both ABC News and Corn, who left ABC News four months earlier, and currently oversees news programming for cable news network NewsNation.
In a statement to the Journal, ABC News thanked Crawford for “courageously speaking out about her experience at ABC News.” Crawford in turn thanked the news organization for its “prompt response to her formal complaint in 2021.”
In her original lawsuit, Crawford claimed that ABC executives learned of her allegations against Corn in 2017, but only launched an investigation into his behavior after she and another ex-ABC News producer Jill McClain connected with one another in January 2021 and filed formal complaints to the company a month later. ABC News pushed back on the claim that it had knowledge of these allegations as far back as 2017.
As for McClain, she alleged that Corn sexually assaulted her in 2010 during a red-eye flight, and 2011 in a London hotel room. Diane Sawyer’s anchor assistant at the time, McClain wasn’t a plaintiff in Crawford’s lawsuit, but publicly supported it.
Corn has denied McClain’s allegations of sexual harassment. She left ABC News in 2013.
Crawford’s lawsuit was initially dismissed by New York County Civil Court Judge Barbara Jaffe in June 2022, who wrote that the three-year statute of limitations on Crawford’s assault accusation had passed and that Corn’s behavior, “while boorish, ill-advised and inappropriate,” did not “create a hostile work environment.”
Crawford appealed the decision, and New York State Supreme Court Appellate Division’s First Department heard Crawford’s appeal on April 26, 2023. In May, the appeals decided to overturn the lower court’s decision to dismiss the hostile-work-environment and sex-discrimination claims against Corn.
The appeals court said Crawford’s allegations supporting her hostile-work-environment and sex-discrimination claims were timely, “as she has sufficiently alleged facts comprising ‘a single continuing pattern of unlawful conduct,’” and consequently remained part of the suit.
The appeals court also overturned a lower court decision to strike allegations in Crawford’s amended complaint about a different sexual assault allegation against Corn made by McClain.
However, the appeals court upheld the dismissal of Crawford’s allegations that her career suffered and she was denied a promotion as a result of Corn’s alleged actions.
Crawford left ABC News at the end of 2021.