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Afton Williamson ‘Rookie’ Investigation: Studio Finds No ‘Inappropriate’ Workplace Behavior

Updated: Former “The Rookie” star Afton Williamson has responded to Entertainment One’s (eOne) findings into her claims of racial discrimination and sexual harassment and assault on the ABC series.

In an Instagram post Tuesday night, Williamson lamented “the lengths that were taken to Deceive, Lie, and Cover Up the Truth” following eOne’s statement.

“It’s Heartbreaking for everyone on that set; Past and Present. And for every Actor out there who Stands in the Face Of Harassment and Discrimination, Assault and Injustice,” Williamson wrote. “As a Black Woman, an Artist, an Actor, in 2019. My Speaking the Truth, Standing up for myself, and Leaving an Unsafe Work Environment, Changed things for a lot of people: Black Women, Artists, Actors, Victims, and Survivors of Injustice and Discrimination.”

“My prayer is that we get to a point in this Industry where we don’t just Talk about it in 2 hour Mandatory Meetings. But we adhere to Keeping the Promises Made to Everyone on every set, Tirelessly Fulfilling their Dreams with Passion and Dedication,” she continued. “In order to Be the Change, I want to see, I will Continue to Work so that Casts & Crews alike finally See Words Align With Action. We’ve got to Do Better as an Industry. It’s just Talk until you actually Do Something.”

Andrew Brettler, Demetrius Grosse’s attorney, released a statement that reads, “Demetrius Grosse was wrongfully accused and has been exonerated of the alleged misconduct regarding his work on The Rookie. After a lengthy and thorough investigation, independent counsel concluded, unequivocally, that the allegations leveled against him where completely meritless. My client was libeled all over the media before any of the claims could even be verified. No one should publish serious allegations like these in such a reckless manner. Demetrius lost multiple jobs as a result of being falsely accused. We’re glad that the investigation has been completed and are grateful to eOne for its unwavering support. Onward.”

eOne released their findings Tuesday, concluding that no “inappropriate” workplace behavior had taken place despite Williamson’s claims.

A statement released by the company reads, in part, “As a result of the independent investigation, we have concluded that those identified in Ms. Williamson’s allegations did not conduct themselves in an unlawful manner or demonstrate behavior inappropriate for the workplace. It was also concluded that the executive producers, including showrunner Alexi Hawley, addressed matters of which they were made aware promptly and in a fair and reasonable manner.”

eOne also said the investigation “was commissioned via law firm Mitchell Silberberg & Knupp LLP who engaged third-party firm EXTTI” and that it “encompassed nearly 400 hours of interviews and review of evidence.”

The full statement can be found below.

In a separate statement, an ABC spokesperson said, “We are glad that eOne has completed an investigation into allegations on the set of ‘The Rookie.’ We are confident that eOne takes these matters seriously and that they will continue to look for the best ways to surface concerns and address complaints.”

Williamson outlined the allegations in an Instagram post back in August, in which she made claims of bullying, harassment, and sexual assault against the head of the show’s hair department, sexual harassment by an unnamed series guest star, and “bullying” from the show’s executive producers. In a separate post days later, she identified the head of the hair department as Sally Nicole Ciganovich and the guest star as Grosse.

“Throughout the filming of the pilot, I experienced Racial Discrimination/Racially Charged inappropriate comments from the hair department and bullying from Executive Producers,” Williamson wrote in her initial post. “During the Season, it continued along with Sexual Harassment from a recurring guest star and the racist commentary & bullying from the Hair Dept. Head escalated into Sexual Assault at our Wrap party.”

Williamson also stated that she repeatedly reported the incidents to series creator and showrunner Hawley, but he never went to HR with any of her claims. She also stated that Ciganovich was only fired after she reported the sexual assault “and NOT [sic] for an entire year of outward racism/racially charged language and bullying behavior in and out of the Hair and Makeup trailer.”

She went on to say that when she reported the sexual harassment by Grosse, she was “assured the actor would be fired.” But Williamson says that she was then asked to film with the actor the next day and that she was subsequently written into scenes with him at the end of the season.

“I asked the Showrunner about this and he admitted to me that the actor had not been fired nor had he gotten HR involved,” she wrote. “I was asked to return this season, and promised that ‘everything was handled.’ The investigation hadn’t even begun and Season 2 had already started filming. I turned it down and I walked. Now is the best time in the world to be a woman and I have a platform so it’s time to use my Voice.”

 

ABC and eOne, which co-produce “The Rookie,” both released statements after Williamson’s initial claims saying that they had “initiated an independent investigation” into the matter. Season 2 of “The Rookie” is set to debut on ABC on Sept. 29.

eOne statement:

We are today addressing the findings of the investigation initiated as a result of the claims made by actor Afton Williamson regarding our series The Rookie. The investigation was commissioned via law firm Mitchell Silberberg & Knupp LLP who engaged third-party firm EXTTI, recognized for their extensive expertise in investigating allegations of harassment, discrimination and retaliation in the workplace.

We take all allegations of inappropriate conduct very seriously, particularly when the allegations involve discrimination or sexual harassment of any nature. We appreciate the cooperation of all those who were interviewed, including Ms. Williamson, the individuals she identified by name, and several other relevant production and staff members.

The investigation encompassed nearly 400 hours of interviews and review of evidence, involving a significant amount of material, including video, that was provided to and examined by the investigator. As a result of the independent investigation, we have concluded that those identified in Ms. Williamson’s allegations did not conduct themselves in an unlawful manner or demonstrate behavior inappropriate for the workplace. It was also concluded that the executive producers, including showrunner Alexi Hawley, addressed matters of which they were made aware promptly and in a fair and reasonable manner.

We recognize and respect that as individuals, the lens through which we view situations, interactions and comments, can differ based on our experiences and perspectives. As such, we regret that Ms. Williamson’s time on the series was not a positive one for her, and we respect her decision to move on to other projects.

We continue to focus on fostering a safe and respectful work environment for all our corporate and production employees and further reinforce our policies and procedures. To protect the privacy of all those interviewed, the investigator’s report will not be available publicly.

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