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Former Top ABC News Producer Accused Of Sexual Assaulting 2 Women In New Lawsuit
"ABC looked the other way, elevated [John] Corn through the ranks due to his commercial success as a producer,” according to the new lawsuit filed by former ABC News producer Kirstyn Crawford.
A former producer for ABC’s “Good Morning America” is accused of sexually assaulting two women, a new lawsuit filed this week alleges.
The morning show’s former top producer, Michael Corn, allegedly sexually assaulted the female producers on business trips between 2010 and 2015, according to the legal filing obtained by NBC News.
Kirstyn Crawford, who filed the suit in New York state court, is a former producer on "Good Morning America." She alleges that Corn sexually assaulted her while their team was covering the Academy Awards in Los Angeles in 2015.
The suit also accuses Corn of assaulting ex-ABC News producer Jill McClain on two separate business trips in 2010 and 2011.
The network is also named as a defendant in the pending case. The suit alleges that ABC had received complaints about Corn’s alleged misconduct dating back several years but did nothing in response.
“Instead, ABC looked the other way, elevated Corn through the ranks due to his commercial success as a producer,” the lawsuit claimed.
"Good Morning America" host George Stephanopoulos was aware of the allegations and encouraged Crawford to go public, the suit states. However, Heather Riley, a then-senior director of publicity, appeared to discourage that strategy and cautioned Crawford that reporting the assault and harassment "might get messy.”
Stephanopoulos hasn’t yet publicly addressed the lawsuit.
The suit claims Corn sexually assaulted McClain on an overnight flight from Los Angeles to New York in 2010 and later in 2011 when the two flew to London to report on the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton.
The alleged assault against McClain occurred too long ago for her to make a legal claim against Corn, hence her inclusion in Crawford’s lawsuit, according to court documents.
ABC News' Diane Sawyer was also reportedly aware of the alleged assault and encouraged McClain to report the assaults to ABC despite the statute of limitations lapsing, court filings state.
“For both Kirstyn and Jill, who is supporting her, the healing process has begun,” Crawford’s attorney, Milton Williams Jr., said in a statement this week.
Corn denied the allegations and has said Crawford and McClain’s claims are “fabricated” and “demonstrably false.”
“I vehemently deny any allegations that I engaged in improper sexual contact with any woman,” Corn said in a statement sent to Oxygen.com. “I will be pursing all available legal remedies against these women and defending myself vigorously,”
His attorney, Elizabeth Locke, pointed to a series of emails exchanged between Corn and Crawford as proof of his innocence. The chain of messages, sent less than 12 hours after the suspected assault, purports to show Crawford twice inviting herself back to the same hotel room where the alleged incident took place in 2015.
“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,” Corn claimed. “These are not the words and actions of a woman who had been assaulted.”
Corn is also accused of fostering a toxic work environment.
“Between 2010 and 2021, Corn also created and perpetuated a toxic work environment fraught with discrimination against and marginalization of women, including verbal and physical abuse and unwelcome sexualized comments and harassment,” the lawsuit stated.
The suit claims the "Good Morning America" producer routinely made sexist remarks and once openly disparaged the physical appearance of E. Jean Carroll, the woman who accused former President Donald Trump of rape. Corn is accused of contending Carroll’s story wouldn’t be popular because she was too old to receive what he allegedly called “Monica Lewinksy attention.” Trump has repeatedly denied Carroll’s accusations are true.
Corn also referred to women journalists as “news nuns,” according to the lawsuit.
ABC News has denied any wrongdoing on its part.
“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,” the news organization said in a statement.
Corn left his position earlier this year.