Disney held mediation talks in June with two women who say they were sexually assaulted by a former top producer at “Good Morning America” in an apparent attempt to stave off a bombshell lawsuit filed against ABC last week, according to a new report.
Two women who say they were assaulted by former “Good Morning America” senior executive producer Michael Corn met with representatives from ABC and its parent company, Disney, in an unsuccessful attempt to reach a settlement, the Wall Street Journal reported Monday.
The mediation came after Disney allegedly conducted an internal investigation into the assault claims.
Following the failed attempt to reach a settlement, 31-year-old “Good Morning America” anchor producer Kirstyn Crawford filed a suit against Corn and ABC in Manhattan Supreme Court last Wednesday, accusing Corn of kissing her in an Uber without her consent in 2015 after a work party in Los Angeles and later barging into her hotel room.
Months after Crawford allegedly reported the incident to ABC management, Corn abruptly left the company in April without explanation.
“Keeping in line with ABC’s culture of sweeping sexual assault under the rug to protect its brand, ABC did not publicly acknowledge Corn’s malfeasance,” Crawford, who works closely with anchor George Stephanopoulos, said in her suit.
Corn is also accused of sexually assaulting Jill McClain, a former ABC employee who worked for Diane Sawyer on “World News Tonight.”
On a flight from Los Angeles to New York in 2010, Corn — seated next to McClain — rubbed her “upper right thigh with his left hand” and then “slid his hand from McClain’s upper right thigh to her vagina” and began to rub “her vagina, over her jeans,” the suit alleges. Then in 2011, while the team was in London covering Prince William and Kate Middleton’s wedding, a drunken Corn barged into McClain’s room and sexually assaulted her, according to the suit.
McClain is not a plaintiff in the suit because the statute of limitations to bring a claim has expired, court papers say.
The allegations against Corn have reportedly roiled staffers at ABC. ABC didn’t immediately reply to a request for comment.
The president of ABC News, Kim Godwin, has called for an independent investigation of the allegations against Corn.
In a call with the entire “Good Morning America” team, an emotional Godwin said, “If this happened to someone on my team, I would have burned the place down,” according to a Monday report in the Daily Beast.
That comment reportedly appeared to be angled at Stephanopoulos, who had been aware of Crawford’s allegations for nearly four years but continued to work with Corn, according to Crawford’s lawsuit.
Godwin’s comment made Stephanopoulos “livid” — and other ABC News employees are questioning whether the Clinton White House staffer-turned-television anchor failed to intervene after learning about the accusations against Corn, according to the Daily Beast.