News chief Kim Godwin called for an outside investigation last month; Top employee said Disney executive Peter Rice would not pursue a
The Walt Disney Company is not conducting an independent investigation into how the network handled sexual-assault allegations against the former top producer of ABC’s “Good Morning America,” the show’s executive producer told staff earlier this week. .
“GMA” executive producer Simone Swink said during a staff meeting on Monday that an external investigation into Michael Korn’s departure as senior executive producer of the top-rated morning news program “is not taking place at this time,” according to the meeting. for recording.
ABC News President Kim Godwin told employees last month that she requested an independent investigation into the matter, The Wall Street Journal reports. The decision not to proceed with the investigation was disclosed last Friday to Godwin, Swink, and other top ABC employees at a meeting hosted by Peter Rice, who, according to the recording, was serving as Disney’s president of general entertainment content. In the role oversees the news unit. .
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“Peter said that asking for an external investigation of The Walt Disney Company was beyond his sphere of influence,” Swink told “GMA” employees at Monday’s meeting.
An ABC News spokesperson and a Disney spokesperson declined to comment.
When asked by an employee whether the network’s allegations against Korn would be investigated internally, Swink said that because the company is in the midst of active litigation, “my understanding right now is that nothing is being done.” “
ABC is a defendant in a lawsuit filed last month alleging that Korn sexually assaulted a current ABC News employee and a former employee in separate incidents. Makai has denied wrongdoing and called the allegations fabricated.
The lawsuit alleges that ABC received complaints about Korn’s conduct from several women that went back nearly a decade, but failed to take disciplinary action. ABC News has previously said that it “disputes the claims made against it and will address the matter in court.”
When Korn was kicked out of the company in April, neither he nor the network gave a reason for his exit. People inside the network said that after the lawsuit was filed, some ABC News employees were outraged that they were unaware of the complaints made against Korn prior to his departure.
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Godwin, who joined CBS as president of ABC News in May, told staff on August 26, a day after the lawsuit was filed that she had asked her superiors for an independent investigation. According to a recording of the conference call, he told staff, “We can’t get our investigation done. We need an independent person.” “The process should be independent.”
Godwin also told the unit that she “won’t be sweeping it under the rug.”
People at the meeting said ABC employees were pleased with Godwin’s request and comments. However, his senior executives at the network and Disney were caught off guard by both the request and his decision to go public about it, people familiar with the matter said.
According to Swink’s account of Friday’s meeting, Rice said that in retrospect, it would have been better to give more details about the circumstances of Korn’s departure, but he also stressed that he didn’t have enough information at the time.
During Monday’s meeting, employees expressed disappointment with Rice’s decision not to conduct the investigation and with Rice’s reason for not taking action. Employees were also told at the meeting that Disney’s human-resources department would visit all news programs over the next few weeks to explain what happens when a complaint is filed.
An ABC News employee at the meeting expressed doubts about the outreach, according to a recording of the meeting. “It’s a lack of trust in HR, and if the company isn’t really facing the problems brought in the lawsuit and not taking accountability, then I don’t know what to gain from the roadshow and learning how to do it.” Works,” said the employee.