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Hallmark Channel Chef Claims She Was Fired for Reporting Harassment

A former chef on the Hallmark Channel’s “Home & Family” show alleges she was fired after reporting executive producer Woody Fraser for sexual harassment.

Shanti Hinojos filed a lawsuit against Crown Media, the channel’s parent company, claiming that Fraser harassed her for years and the network failed to respond. She alleges that he was removed from the set only after she and other women contacted attorney Lisa Bloom, but that subsequently Fraser’s allies concocted a pretext to fire her.

The suit is the second to allege rampant sexual misconduct on the family-friendly morning show. Mark Steines, the former host of the show, filed suit in September, claiming that he was fired because he supported the women who made allegations against Fraser.

Fraser, 83, was the executive producer of the show. He had a long career in morning TV, and a close association with Fox News boss Roger Ailes.

In her suit, Hinojos alleges that Fraser began harassing her shortly after she started work on the program in 2014. She alleges that Fraser came up behind her while she was on set and whispered in her ear, “Have I ever told you what a great little body you have?” Though she rebuffed him, the advances continued. She alleges that Fraser would touch her waist, rub her shoulders, and brush up against her legs and buttocks. On several occasions, she says Fraser pinned her against the kitchen counter, and once tried to move cake from his mouth into hers.

In January 2017, Hinojos says that Fraser’s wife entered hospice with terminal cancer. She said Fraser told her, “you’re going to be my next wife,” and “once things clear up, we will be great together.” Hinojos says she did what she could to dissuade Fraser, even dressing in a ballcap and baggy clothes, but to no avail.

According to the suit, Hinojos told several co-workers and supervisors about Fraser’s misconduct, but she was advised that it was pointless to complain, and that it would be career “suicide.”

In the spring of 2017, other female employees and Steines went to Bloom, who is known for filing sexual harassment suits. Expecting to be sued, Fraser issued a public statement in June 2017 acknowledging that he is not “perfect,” but saying he had engaged in “no actionable conduct.” Crown Media ultimately settled out of court with Bloom’s clients, according to the suit. Fraser was also terminated, the suit states, and Crown Media separated the show from his production company.

However, Hinojos alleges that Fraser’s allies remained at the show. She claims that one of them, Stacy Patterson, learned the identity of one of Fraser’s accusers, and made a doppelganger doll of the woman and hung it from the ceiling by a noose. She alleges that a second Fraser ally, Tracy Verna, repeatedly called Hinojos a “bitch” and once slapped her buttocks in front of other employees, saying, “It’s very nice.”

Hinojos says she was fired in December 2017, purportedly for “subpar job performance.” She alleges that the company had made a decision to eliminate perceived “threats” to the show.

“Hinojos was terminated for performance issues,” Crown Media said in a statement. “She was given the opportunity to correct those issues, but failed to do so. We have investigated and there is no merit to her allegations.”

Hinojos Crown Media by gmaddaus on Scribd

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