Disney, CBS, and Criminal Minds Execs Sued for ‘Unchecked’ Sexual Harassment on Set
Disney, ABC Studios, CBS, and executives from the show Criminal Minds were hit with a sexual harassment and discrimination lawsuit from the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing on Tuesday, May 26. Per The Hollywood Reporter, the complaint alleges unwanted sexual touching by Gregory St. Johns, who acted as a director of photography on the show, which ended in February. Last July, St. Johns was personally sued, along with ABC Studios, CBS, Warner Bros., and Entertainment Partners Enterprises, by a 2nd assistant cameraman who claims he was repeatedly sexually harassed by St. Johns. Now, California authorities themselves are going after ABC, Disney, and CBS. The suit also calls out various individuals who worked on the show.
“With the aid of defendants, St. Johns created an unchecked intimidating, hostile, and offensive work environment on the set of Criminal Minds,” states the complaint, obtained by The Hollywood Reporter. “Protected by the executive production team — including showrunner Erica Messer, executive producer Harry Bring, executive producer John Breen Frazier, director Glenn Kershaw, and unit production manager Stacey Beneville — St. Johns continued his unlawful conduct for years.” Not only did the executives have knowledge of St. Johns’s actions, the suit claims, but they “fired anyone who resisted or who tacitly evaded St. Johns’ advances or abuse.”
The investigation was sparked after they received a complaint from Anthony Matulic, a former technician who says he resisted a slap on the butt and was ultimately fired after reporting it. They also followed up on a complaint by Dauv McNeely, who worked in the video playback department and corroborated allegations against St. Johns before also being dismissed. According to the suit, over a dozen men were fired at St. Johns’s request. At the time of publishing, only the Walt Disney Company has spoken out about the lawsuit. “The Company works hard to maintain a work environment free from discrimination, harassment, or retaliation,” a rep for the Disney–owned ABC Studios told Deadline. “In this instance the Company took corrective action. We cooperated with the Department of Fair Employment and Housing during its investigation, and we regret that we were unable to reach a reasonable resolution with the Department. We now intend to defend the asserted claims vigorously.” The lawsuit notes that St. Johns was only removed from his post after Variety reported some of the allegations. At the time, 18 employees described St. Johns flicking male crew member’s nipples and grabbing their butts, inner thighs, and genitals. One crew member claims St. Johns once pulled his shorts down, exposing himself to the crew. That crew member reported it, but was let go at the end of the season, allegedly for not getting along with St. Johns. Criminal Minds is just one of several CBS shows racked with sexual harassment and abuse claims. Accusations have been made on 60 Minutes, NCIS: New Orleans, Star Trek: Discovery, and more.