Labor & Employment

Studios that made 'Criminal Minds' are sued for alleged longtime sexual harassment on set

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A California agency has filed a sexual harassment lawsuit alleging that the production companies that made the TV show Criminal Minds failed to prevent an alleged hostile work environment that persisted for 14 years.

The California Department of Fair Employment and Housing filed the suit Tuesday, report the Hollywood Reporter, Variety and the Associated Press. A press release is here.

The suit is extraordinary because of the defendants the agency is pursuing, according to the Hollywood Reporter. They include the Walt Disney Co., ABC Signature Studios and CBS Studios. The show’s four executive producers are also defendants.

The suit alleges that Criminal Minds director of photography Gregory St. Johns subjected crew members to unwanted touching, groping, kissing and caressing during the 14 years that he was employed there. Show executives had actual and constructive knowledge of the misconduct, and they fired anyone who resisted St. Johns’ abuse, the suit alleges. More than a dozen men were allegedly fired at St. Johns’ request.

St. Johns “created an unchecked intimidating, hostile and offensive work environment on the set of Criminal Minds,” the suit alleges. He wasn’t removed until about October 2018, when Variety gave executives a preview of an article about an ongoing hostile work environment on the show set.

ABC Signature Studios told Variety and the Hollywood Reporter in a statement that it will fight the claims.

“The company works hard to maintain a work environment free from discrimination, harassment or retaliation,” the statement said. “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.”

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