ABC News president Kim Godwin reportedly infuriated her bosses at parent company Disney by calling for an independent investigation into the groping allegations against a former Good Morning America producer.
Godwin’s call last week for a third-party investigation into the claims against former senior executive producer, Michael Corn, which he denies, angered Disney General Entertainment Content chairman Peter Rice. CNN, which named two people familiar with the case.
Rice and other bosses at Disney’s Burbank headquarters are “really pissed off” at Godwin, one person told the outlet. Disney General Counsel and Executive Vice President Alan Braverman is also angry with Godwin, a source said.
Insiders say morale is low at ABC News, where they say Rice is a “ghost” and ignore requests to speak to staff about the crisis.
Godwin, who joined ABC News just six months ago, called for an investigation a day after a lawsuit was filed against Corn by 31-year-old Kirstyn Crawford, who claims he kissed her head and rubbed her legs in 2015.
‘We cannot allow ourselves to be examined. We need an independent person,” Godwin said during a conference call on Thursday. “The process must 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 on her jeans during a red-eye flight in 2010.
Corn, who left ABC earlier this year, has strenuously denied the allegations and vowed to fight them.
ABC News president Kim Godwin has reportedly infuriated her bosses at parent company Disney by calling for an independent investigation into the groping allegations.
Disney General Entertainment Content Chairman Peter Rice and Disney General Counsel and Executive Vice President Alan Braverman Reportedly Angry Over Call for Investigation
The tangible claims against 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 Thursday morning.
On Monday, Corn’s attorney DailyMail.com delivered emails from one of the accusers to him the day after he allegedly assaulted her, telling him he’s the “best.”
In a statement from his lawyer, Corn said: “I strongly deny all allegations that I had inappropriate sexual contact with another woman.
Crawford’s claims are demonstrably false – and I’m sending concurrent emails to prove it. … I will (sic) pursue all available legal remedies against these women and defend 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 years.
Goodwin, the president of ABC News, joined the network in May of this year after Corn had already left in April. Neither he nor the company gave a reason for his departure.
Goodwin said the investigation would also look at the employees handling 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 about 25 years old. Jill McClain, who worked with Corn on another show, says the producer rubbed her vagina on 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 in New York State Court on Wednesday.
“Corn grabbed Crawford’s hand and told her he wanted to help her with her career,” the lawsuit said.
The couple had just left a company party and when they got back to the hotel Crawford helped him to his room, where Corn reportedly pulled her head to his chest and stroked her hair.
He also reportedly stumbled into her room drunk and lay down on her bed, leaving her “trembling”; she was terrified,” the lawsuit said.
Corn has denied the allegations, calling 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 next morning, Corn “not only failed to acknowledge his inappropriate and unforgivable behavior, but was also contemptuous and rude to Crawford, leaving Crawford feeling self-conscious and uncomfortable.”
She also claimed that “the Monday after the sexual assault incident against Crawford, Corn was particularly curt.
“He exploded in Crawford because Stephanopoulos decided he wanted to leave the show early and go home, something he did regularly. Corn yelled at Crawford that she had failed in her sole task of making sure Stephanopoulos stayed in the studio.
“Corn later tried to apologize and acknowledge that Crawford only has so much control, but this continued to be a pattern of harassment from Crawford.”
Morning after emails paint a picture of a friendly relationship.
On Sunday, February 22, among the many exchanges between the pair, she said in one: “Hahaha why are you so amazing.”
On Monday, his lawyer DailyMail.com delivered emails from one of the accusers to him the day after he allegedly assaulted her, telling 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 attacked under “eerily similar circumstances” several years earlier.
During a red-eye flight from Los Angeles, McClain says Corn let his hand slide out of the sky [her] right thigh to her vagina, and started rubbing her jeans over her vagina.’
ABC officials learned of Crawford’s allegations in 2017, but an investigation into Corn’s conduct wasn’t launched until after Crawford and McClain filed formal complaints with the company in February, according to the lawsuit.
ABC conducted an internal investigation into Crawford and McClain’s allegations after they filed 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 diatribes that left her with the feeling that she “walked on eggshells, unsure when Corn would explode.
“Corn hesitated between publicly berating Crawford and emailing her privately about personal and confidential matters to make her feel like some kind 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, then 24 and recently engaged, 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 for no reason before he left in April this year
‘Corn turned—unsolicited—to McClain and said words along the lines 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 fly somewhere else and spend the rest of the weekend together?’ according to the lawsuit.
McClain says Corn attacked her again in April 2011 while the couple were in London to cover the royal wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton.
She says Corn was “visibly drunk” 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 McClain said he cared more about her career than Sawyer ever would,” the lawsuit says.
He knocked on her door, made his way into the room, pinned her to a wall and began kissing her face and neck, the lawsuit says.
“McClain froze and had a flashback to the attack on the plane. Corn pulled McClain into the room with his back, pushed her onto her back on the bed and sat on top of her.
Corn then grabbed the top of McClain’s jumpsuit and her bra and pulled them both down, revealing McClain’s bare breasts. Corn began to caress McClain’s bare chest.
“McClain gathered all the strength she could and managed to push him off her. She yelled at Corn to leave, and Corn left the room in frustration. McClain felt violated and in shock; she took the clothes 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 didn’t feel she could safely report Corn’s behavior for fear that Corn would retaliate. But also the hostile work environment between men and women at ABC made McClain feel that a future at ABC was unmanageable,” the lawsuit said.