One day after announcing Simone Swink as the new executive producer of Good Morning America, ABC News is now the focus of a negative story.
The Wall Street Journal is reporting that Disney and ABC News “held unsuccessful mediation talks in June with the two women who have alleged they were sexually assaulted by a former ABC News executive.”
The sexual assault claims being made against former GMA senior ep Michael Corn, also first reported by WSJ’s Joe Flint, surfaced last week in a lawsuit filed in New York State court by one of the women, ABC News producer Kirstyn Crawford. Corn continues to deny the charges being made against him in the lawsuit.
In addition to Corn, Crawford’s lawsuit also names ABC as a defendant, alleging the network received complaints about Corn’s behavior from multiple women over roughly a decade ago, but didn’t discipline the veteran, high-ranking executive.
Flint reports that the mediation talks came after Disney concluded an investigation into the women’s allegations against Corn, according to one of his sources close to Disney ABC and the alleged victims.
Flint reported last week that Crawford is alleging Corn assaulted her in 2015 during a business trip to Los Angeles, and that the incidents took place in an Uber ride after a party and later at their hotel.
In her lawsuit, Crawford “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 the executive when the two worked at World News Tonight roughly a decade ago, before Corn moved to Good Morning America as its executive in charge. McClain isn’t a plaintiff in this particular lawsuit, but is supporting Crawford’s case, according to the lawsuit. She left ABC News in 2013.
ABC News is saying it “disputes the claims made against it and will address this matter in court.”
Last week, in a statement through his attorney Libby Locke, Corn stated: “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.”
Corn is citing contemporaneous emails between him and Crawford and between him and McClain as proof that he did not sexually assault either of them (click here to read those emails).