ABC News President Kim Godwin reportedly infuriated her bosses at parent company Disney by calling for an independent probe into the groping allegations against a former Good Morning America producer.
Godwin’s call last week for a third-party probe into the claims against the former senior executive producer, Michael Corn, which he denies, angered Disney General Entertainment Content Chairman Peter Rice, according to CNN, which cited two people familiar with the matter.
Rice and other bosses in Disney’s Burbank headquarters are ‘really pissed’ with Godwin, one person told the outlet. Disney General Counsel and Executive Vice President Alan Braverman is also upset with Godwin, a source said.
Insiders say that morale is low at ABC News, where they say Rice is a ‘ghost’ and ignoring requests to address the staff about the the crisis.
Godwin, who has only joined ABC News six months ago, issued her call for a probe a day after a lawsuit was filed against Corn by Kirstyn Crawford, 31, who claims he kissed her head and rubbed her legs in 2015.
‘We can’t have us investigating us. We need an independent person,’ Godwin told staffers in a conference call last Thursday. ‘The process has to be independent.’
The lawsuit also includes a claim by Jill McClain, who worked with Corn on World News Tonight in 2010. She says he rubbed her genitals over her jeans during a red-eye flight in 2010.
Corn, who left ABC earlier this year, has denied the allegations strenuously and vowed to fight them.
ABC News President Kim Godwin reportedly infuriated her bosses at parent company Disney by calling for an independent probe into the groping allegations
Disney General Entertainment Content Chairman Peter Rice and Disney General Counsel and Executive Vice President Alan Braverman are said to be angry over the call for a probe
The groping claims against the former senior executive producer, Michael Corn, which he denies, emerged in a lawsuit filed last week
Disney did not respond to a request for comment from DailyMail.com on Thursday morning.
On Monday, Corn’s attorney provided DailyMail.com with emails from one of the accusers to him the day after he allegedly assaulted her, in which she tells him he’s the ‘best’.
In a statement provided by his lawyer, Corn said: ‘I vehemently deny any allegations that I engaged in improper sexual contact with another woman.
‘Crawford’s claims are demonstrably false – and I am providing contemporaneous emails to prove it. … I will be pursing (sic) all available legal remedies against these women and defending myself vigorously.’
The lawsuit alleges that ABC, which is owned by Walt Disney Co knew, or should have known, about the sexual harassment and failed to take corrective action for many years.
Goodwin, the ABC News president, joined the network in May of this year after Corn had already left in April. Neither he nor the company offered a reason for his departure.
Goodwin said the investigation would also look into the employees who handled complaints against Corn.
Crawford is currently an ‘anchor producer’ on Good Morning America.
Crawford suit says Corn kissed her head and rubbed her legs without her consent in an Uber in 2015, when she would have been about 25 years old.
Kirstyn Crawford (left) says Corn kissed her head, rubbed her legs, and burst into her room drunk during a trip to Los Angeles to cover the Oscars in 2015, when she was around 25 years old. Jill McClain, who worked with Corn on a different show, says the producer rubbed her vagina over her jeans during a red-eye flight from Los Angeles in 2010
They were on a business trip to Los Angeles to cover the Academy Awards, according to the lawsuit filed Wednesday in New York state court.
‘Corn grabbed Crawford’s hand and told her that he wanted to be able to help her with her career,’ the lawsuit says.
The pair had just left a company party, and when they got back to the hotel, Crawford helped him to his room, where Corn allegedly pulled her head onto his chest and pet her hair.
He also allegedly stumbled into her room drunk and laid down on her bed, leaving her ‘shaking; she was terrified,’ according to the lawsuit.
Corn has denied the allegations and called them all fabrications.
Emails from the morning after the alleged incident, which Crawford said happened in the back of an Uber and then at the hotel, undermine what she says in the lawsuit.
She said that the morning afterwards, ‘not only did Corn fail to acknowledge his inappropriate and inexcusable behavior, but he was also dismissive and rude to Crawford, which made Crawford feel self-conscious and uncomfortable.’
She also claimed ‘the Monday after the sexual assault incident against Crawford, Corn was particularly terse.
‘He exploded at Crawford, because Stephanopoulos decided he wanted to leave the show early and head home, which was something he did regularly. Corn yelled at Crawford that she had failed at her one job of ensuring that Stephanopoulos remained at the studio.
‘Corn later tried to apologize, and acknowledge that Crawford only has so much control, but this continued a pattern of harassing Crawford.’
Emails from the morning after paint a picture of a friendlier relationship.
On Sunday 22nd February, among the many exchanged between the pair, she said in one: ‘Hahaha why are you so great.’
On Monday, his attorney provided DailyMail.com with emails from one of the accusers to him the day after he allegedly assaulted her, in which she tells him he’s the ‘best’.
The lawsuit also includes a story from Jill McClain, who worked with Corn on World News Tonight in 2010 and says she was assaulted under ‘eerily similar circumstances several years prior.’
During a red-eye flight from Los Angeles, McClain says Corn ‘slid his hand from [her] upper right thigh to her vagina, and began rubbing her vagina, over her jeans.’
ABC officials learned of Crawford’s allegations in 2017, but an investigation into Corn’s conduct was only launched after Crawford and McClain filed formal complaints to the company in February, according to the lawsuit.
ABC conducted an internal investigation into Crawford and McClain’s allegations after they made a formal complaint in February, according to the lawsuit, and terminated Corn in April.
Crawford’s lawsuit alleges that Corn had a pattern of verbally abusive tirades, which left her feeling like she ‘walked on eggshells, unsure of when Corn would explode.
‘Corn would waffle between berating Crawford publicly and emailing her privately about personal and confidential matters to make her feel like she was some sort of confidante,’ the lawsuit said.
McClain added her story to the lawsuit in support of Crawford, but she is not an official party.
After the incident where he rubbed her vagina on the plane from Los Angeles, McClain, who was 24 and recently engaged at the time, alleges more inappropriate comments from Corn.
Crawford, who filed the suit, worked with Corn as a producer on ABC’s Good Morning America. She’s still there, but Corn left with no reason for his departure in April of this year
‘Corn – unprompted – turned to McClain and said words to the effect of, ‘I hope your marriage is better than mine. I wish my wife was more like you. Wouldn’t it be great if the two of us could catch a flight somewhere else and spend the rest of the weekend together?’ according to the lawsuit.
McClain says Corn assaulted her again in April 2011 while the pair was in London covering the royal wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton.
She says Corn was ‘visibly intoxicated’ and followed her to her room after they left the bar.
‘In a disturbing parallel to what he would say to Crawford four years later, Corn told McClain that he cared more about her career than Sawyer ever would,’ the lawsuit says.
He knocked on her door, pushed his way into the room, pinned her against a wall, and started kissing her face and neck, the lawsuit says.
‘McClain froze and had a flashback to the assault on the plane. Corn backed McClain into the room, pushed her down onto the bed on her back, and got on top of her.
‘Corn then grabbed the top of McClain’s jumpsuit as well as her bra and pulled them both down, exposing McClain’s bare breasts. Corn began fondling McClain’s bare chest.
‘McClain mustered all of the strength that she could and managed to push him off of her. She yelled at Corn to leave, and Corn left the room in a huff. McClain felt violated and was in shock; she took the clothes that she was wearing and threw them in the trash.’
McClain left her ‘dream job’ at ABC in 2013, citing a hostile work environment.
‘For one thing, McClain did not feel that she could safely report Corn’s conduct for fear that Corn would retaliate. But also, the prevailing hostile work environment between men and women at ABC made McClain feel that a future at ABC was unmanageable,’ the lawsuit says.