The following sounds like something out of the Apple TV+ series, The Morning Show.
The Wall Street Journal’s Joe Flint reports Michael Corn, formerly the executive in charge of Good Morning America, is being sued by GMA producer Kirstyn Crawford, “alleging he sexually assaulted her and fostered a toxic work environment.”
Crawford states in her suit, which has been filed in New York state court, that Corn assaulted her in 2015 during a business trip to Los Angeles.
In what is a well-reported story from Flint, he says Crawford, a producer at GMA for George Stephanopoulos, “is seeking unspecified damages, citing emotional and physical distress, among other fallout from the alleged incident.”
Crawford’s lawsuit also alleges former ABC producer Jill McClain was sexually assaulted by Corn when the two worked at World News Tonight roughly a decade ago, before Corn moved to GMA. McClain isn’t a plaintiff in this particular lawsuit, but is supporting Crawford’s case, according to the lawsuit.
TVNewser received information earlier this summer of Corn’s past behavior, which is in part why he did not get the ABC News president job, and why he left the network in April. However, we didn’t have enough on-the-record information to go with at the time.
So, what exactly is Crawford alleging what happened? Flint writes:
In the suit, she alleges that an inebriated Corn assaulted her during a trip to Los Angeles in 2015 to cover the Academy Awards. During an Uber ride back to their hotel after a party, Mr. Corn forcibly touched Ms. Crawford, kissing her head and rubbing her legs, telling her he wanted to help her with her career, according to the suit. As a producer, Ms. Crawford worked under Mr. Corn.
Corn is now president of Nexstar Media-owned cable news division NewsNation. When reached for comment on this story, a Nexstar Media spokesperson told TVNewser: “We have no comment on anything that may or may not have happened prior to Mr. Corn’s employment with Nexstar.”
When reached for comment, ABC News told TVNewser: “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.”
In a statement through his attorney Libby Locke, a founder of defamation law firm Clare Locke LLP, Corn states: “I vehemently deny any allegations that I engaged in improper sexual contact with another woman. Kirstyn Crawford’s claims are demonstrably false—and I am providing contemporaneous emails to prove it. Hours after the supposed incident, Ms. Crawford offered to bring me coffee and breakfast to my hotel room and asked for my hotel room number because she didn’t know it—the very same room where she now claims this incident occurred. The same day, she repeatedly offered for me to share a car with her. And the same day she emailed me, after I helped counsel her through a work problem, ‘why are you so great?’ These are not the words and actions of a woman who had been assaulted hours before.
Jill McClain’s allegations are equally as fabricated. After I allegedly touched her on an airplane, Jill repeatedly booked our future air travel to sit next to me, she invited me to her wedding—including a pre-wedding event that was limited to her immediate family and closest friends—and she repeatedly communicated to me and my wife that she missed me after leaving her position at ABC. These are not the words and actions of a woman who had been assaulted.
I will be pursing all available legal remedies against these women and defending myself vigorously.”
Below is the full 17-page letter sent by Corn’s counsel to Crawford’s counsel, Milton L. Williams, Partner at Walden Macht & Haran LLP, yesterday. The contemporaneous emails between Corn and Crawford can be found in this letter.
In his story for WSJ, Flint adds that ABC News officials initially learned of Crawford’s allegations in 2017, but only launched an investigation into Corn’s behavior after she and McClain filed formal complaints to the company this past February, according to the lawsuit.
In November 2017, George Stephanopoulos became aware through a third party of the alleged assault and notified Tanya Menton, an ABC lawyer who handles litigation and employee relations; Derek Medina, then an executive at GMA who’s now evp of ABC News business affairs, and Heather Riley, Stephanopoulos’ main spokeswoman (Riley is now of crisis management communications and strategic initiatives for ABC News).
According to Flint, Crawford declined to speak with Menton after a conversation with Riley, who told her reporting the assault and harassment might get “messy,” according to the suit. Crawford feared a complaint would “do more harm than good or even result in losing her job,” the suit says.
Flint adds that elsewhere in Crawford’s lawsuit, she alleges that Corn assaulted fellow ABC News producer Jill McClain on a red-eye in 2010, groping her and rubbing her vagina through her jeans. McClain turned her body toward the window and pretended to fall asleep, the suit says.
During a separate trip to London in 2011, Corn, drunk, forced his way into her hotel room, pushed her onto the bed and “grabbed the top of McClain’s jumpsuit as well as her bra and pulled them both down,” fondling her breasts, according to the suit. McClain pushed Corn off and yelled at him to leave, which he did, the suit says.
McClain didn’t file a complaint about the alleged incidents at the time, Flint reports. Years later, on New Year’s Eve 2020, McClain was speaking with Diane Sawyer, with whom she previously worked on World News Tonight when Sawyer was anchor. According to the lawsuit, Sawyer told McClain that she should report the alleged incidents to ABC and also told the aforementioned Menton.
Crawford and McClain connected with each other in January of this year and later filed their complaints, triggering ABC’s probe into the ordeal, according to the suit.
Evidently, multiple other women at ABC News reported complaints about Corn’s behavior to the network, including allegations ranging from bullying to sexual harassment.
TVNewser has heard similar accusations in recent months.
However, Crawford’s doesn’t name the other alleged victims.
It’s interesting that Today show co-host Matt Lauer and CBS This Morning co-host Charlie Rose were fired for sexual harassment allegations back in November 2017, yet it took four years for something to be said and/or done in this ABC News ordeal.