Lawsuit accuses former top ABC producer of sexual assault

A former top producer at ABC News has been accused of sexually assaulting female subordinates and fostering a toxic work environment at the network, according to a lawsuit filed Wednesday. 

The suit accuses Michael Corn, a former executive producer of ABC's "Good Morning America" and "World News Tonight," of sexually harassing and assaulting multiple employees during his career at the network from 2010 to 2021.

The lawsuit was filed this week in New York state court. The Wall Street Journal first reported on the suit.

ADVERTISEMENT

Corn issued a statement through his attorney on Wednesday in response to the lawsuit denying all of the allegations. 

One of the complainants in the lawsuit, Kirstyn Crawford, alleges that in February of 2015, while she and Corn were in Los Angeles covering the annual Academy Awards, Corn "grabbed Crawford’s hand and told her that he wanted to be able to help her with her career" before he "began kissing Crawford on the head and rubbing her legs" in an Uber to her hotel after a social gathering with other ABC staffers. 

Once Crawford took Corn, who was allegedly intoxicated, back to his hotel room, he "grabbed Crawford’s arm and pulled her down onto the bed and pulled her head onto his chest," the lawsuit states, adding that the top producer "began kissing the top of Crawford’s head, petting her hair and stroking her arm."

The suit alleges another staffer at ABC News, Jill McClain, "suffered grievous psychological harm resulting from Corn’s sexually abusive actions." 

During a flight to Los Angeles in September of 2010, Corn "slid his hand from McClain’s upper right thigh to her vagina, and began rubbing her vagina, over her jeans," according to the lawsuit, which noted the female staffer "turned her body towards the window so Corn’s hand could no longer reach and grope her vagina, and she pretended to fall asleep." 

The lawsuit also alleges a pattern of excessive drinking by Corn, sometimes during working hours, leading to a hostile and abusive work environment for staffers. 

ADVERTISEMENT

In his statement, Corn said Crawford's claims are demonstrably false.

“I vehemently deny any allegations that I engaged in improper sexual contact with another woman," the statement said. "Crawford’s claims are demonstrably false—and I am providing contemporaneous emails to prove it."

"Hours after the supposed incident, Ms. Crawford offered to bring me coffee and breakfast to my hotel room and asked for my hotel room number because she didn’t know it—the very same room where she now claims this incident occurred," the statement said. "The same day, she repeatedly offered for me to share a car with her. And the same day she emailed me, after I helped counsel her through a work problem, 'why are you so great?' These are not the words and actions of a woman who had been assaulted hours before." 

He also denied the allegations in the lawsuit involving McClain. 

"Jill McClain’s allegations are equally as fabricated," the statement said. "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.  These are not the words and actions of a woman who had been assaulted." 

An attorney for Crawford, Milt Williams, told The Hill: “For both Kirstyn, and Jill, who is supporting her, the healing process has begun.”

Corn was hired in May by Nexstar Broadcasting Group to serve as the company's president of news and head up NewsNation, the company's cable news operation. Nexstar on Friday purchased The Hill. 

The company declined comment in a statement. 

“We have no comment on anything that may or may not have happened prior to Mr. Corn’s employment with Nexstar," a spokesperson for Nexstar told The Hill. 

ABC is also named as a defendant in the lawsuit, which it says was made aware of Corn's behavior but failed to take action. 

In a statement to The Hill on Wednesday afternoon, ABC News said it disputes the claims in the suit and plans to "address this matter in court."

“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," the company said.

Updated 1:42 p.m.