Kim Godwin, the new president of ABC News, said Thursday that she wants an independent investigation of how the network handled reports of sexual assault allegations against a former top producer for Good Morning America, according to a report.
The Wall Street Journal, citing audio of a call between Godwin and staffers, reported that she said during the meeting on Thursday, “We can’t have us investigating us. We need an independent person.” She was responding to staff anger over the way that the allegations were handled.
The producer, Michael Corn, abruptly left the network in April, but he has denied the claims brought by Kirstyn Crawford in a civil lawsuit filed on Wednesday. Crawford claims Corn sexually assaulted her during an Uber ride in Los Angeles in 2015, when they were there for coverage of the Academy Awards, and later that evening at their hotel.
Corn, who is now president of Nexstar’s NewsNation, issued a statement through his attorney in which he said, “I vehemently deny any allegations that I engaged in improper sexual contact with another woman.” His attorney also disclosed emails, sent to Crawford’s attorney, in which she engages in a friendly conversation with Corn the day after the alleged incident occurred. His attorney, Elizabeth Locke, also warned Crawford’s team of the potential repercussions of filing what “frivolous” claims.
Crawford, who is anchor producer for George Stephanopoulos on GMA, claims in the lawsuit that in or around November 2017, Stephanopoulos learned of the alleged assault and reported it to Tanya Menton, a lawyer in the network’s litigation department. The lawsuit also said that publicist Heather Riley and business affairs executive vice president Derek Medina were aware of the allegations. But Crawford’s lawsuit said that she feared retaliation and did not report the claims herself until February of this year.
Her lawsuit also includes claims that another former ABC News staffer, Jill McClain, also alleged that Corn assaulted her in two separate incidents about a decade ago, but that she feared that her career would suffer if she reported it. McClain is not a plaintiff in the lawsuit but is supporting the case, according to Crawford’s complaint. Corn also denied McClain’s allegations.
An ABC News spokesperson did respond to a request for comment.
On Wednesday, the network issued a statement on the lawsuit, “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.”