After more than four months of arbitration hearings and 2,500 pages of testimony, the Directors Guild of America has decided to drop its case challenging ABC’s firing of a former stage manager accused of sexually harassing several female extras on the set of “General Hospital.”The union’s decision to drop the case reportedly came late last week after additional witnesses came forward to testify. In all, 12 women testified during the hearings about sexual harassment they allegedly faced on the “Hospital” set from Jerry Blumenthal. Confronted with the new corroborating testimony, the DGA withdrew its complaint regarding Blumenthal’s firing. Blumenthal’s attorney could not be reached for comment. The DGA had initiated arbitration late last year after ABC fired Blumenthal as the result of an in-house investigation into charges brought by a handful of extras. In the ensuing months, one of those extras, Nancy Parry, filed a multimillion-dollar suit against Blumenthal (Daily Variety, Oct. 27, 1992). The suit not only charged sexual harassment, but also sought damages for intentional interference with economic or contractual advantage, assault and battery and intentional infliction of emotional distress. The harassment allegedly occurred over several years beginning in 1980. In Parry’s suit, the extra charged that Blumenthal made verbal threats concerning her not being able to continue to work if she did not have sex with him. When Parry did not comply, she eventually was not rehired, according to court papers. Apparently all of the women who came forward during the union’s arbitration were extras or day players. Many of those extras had not come forward when ABC had conducted an initial in-house investigation more than a year ago, which resulted in no disciplinary action. It was not until Parry complained and then hired a lawyer that four more extras decided to testify about their experiences. That led to Blumenthal’s firing.
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