California Sues CBS, Disney For ‘Criminal Minds’ Sexual Harassment Claims
The California Department of Fair Employment and Housing filed a discrimination lawsuit against Disney and CBS Studios for allegedly allowing “Criminal Minds” cinematographer Greg St. Johns to create a culture of sexual “harassment, discrimination and retaliation” on set for 14 years.
The suit, filed last week, claims that St. Johns “touched men on the testicles, anus, butt cheeks, breasts, and kissed or caressed their necks, shoulders, and ears, among other actions, in view of other employees, executive producers and/or management.”
“The discrimination and harassment were rampant, frequent, and in the open,” the suit claims, also alleging that Disney and executives fired more than a dozen men at St. Johns’ request.
Disney and CBS Studios did not respond to HuffPost’s request for comment.
St. Johns only left the show, which ran for 15 seasons on CBS and was co-produced by ABC and CBS, after a 2018 Variety report detailed crew members’ complaints of his alleged abuse and “tyrant” behavior on set. That report also noted that management had not done anything to help. The lawsuit makes note of the report, saying: “It was not until the media made St. Johns’ conduct public and threatened their image that defendants removed St. Johns from the show.”
Disney, ABC Studios and CBS Studios are identified as defendants alongside four executive producers on “Criminal Minds” including Erica Messer, Harry Bring, Breen Frazier and Glenn Kershaw. Co-producer Stacey Beneville is also a defendant.
The suit says that “despite common knowledge of such a pattern or practice of unlawful conduct on Criminal Minds, defendants did nothing to stop it.”
“On a consistent, continuous, and regular basis, St. Johns subjected [Antony] Matulic, [Dauv] McNeely, and other aggrieved employees, former employees or covered persons to hostile work environment and quid pro quo sexual harassment in the workplace,” it reads.
St. Johns allegedly “doted on certain men and treated them more favorably, provided they acquiesced to his attention” while retaliating to those who resisted or complained with “silent treatment, social ostracism, unfair criticism, public shaming, and termination.”
Of that behavior, the suit says that the “defendants’ executive team not only had actual and constructive knowledge of St. Johns’ abusive conduct, they condoned it.”
“No necessary steps to prevent sex-based harassment and discrimination were taken over the years, nor were appropriate corrective actions. Instead, the executives fired anyone who resisted or who tacitly evaded St. Johns’ advances or abuse,” the suit says.
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