ABC entertainment president Karey Burke reacted to allegations of sexual harassment, bullying, and racial discrimination made byThe Rookie star Afton Williamson, who announced that she was opting not to return for the show’s sophomore season.
“I’m going to, I’m sure, be quite frustrating to you today because I don’t have a lot of answers. I wish I had more,” Burke said during the network’s executive session at the Television Critics Association summer press tour presentation on Monday.
“I learned, alongside my colleagues, at the end of June that there were allegations and that an investigation had been launched by eOne and I’m waiting for the results of that investigation, just as you are, to get more answers.”
She added, “I can trust the investigation because…the production company hired an independent third party to do the investigation. I’m hopeful that those results will be independent and trustworthy and anticipate they will be. At that time, those answers and those conclusions will help guide us about how to handle situations like that in the future if, in fact, there has been any sort of communication breakdown.”
Williamson, who portrayed Talia Bishop on the Nathan Fillion-led crime drama for one season, shared her story with fans via Instagram on Sunday. She alleged that there was “racial discrimination/racially charged inappropriate comments from the hair department and bullying from executive producers” while shooting the pilot episode.
Adding that she was sexually harassed by a guest star she declined to name, sexually assaulted during the show’s wrap party, and subjected to racist commentary and bullying from the hair department. Williamson claims she reported the harassment to series showrunner and executive producer Alexi Hawley who took no action against the guest star nor had he reported the incident to human resources. EW has not been able to independently confirm her allegations.
“After my initial report of sexual harassment, I was assured that the actor would be fired,” Williamson said. “I was also asked to film with him the very next day as a courtesy to the script, even though we had not begun filming the episode yet.”
EW has reached out to a representative for Hawley for comment.
Both the network and production company Entertainment One released public statements on Sunday regarding the matter.
“The allegations involve a production from Entertainment One,” the statement from ABC said. “In late June, eOne made us aware and informed us that they launched an investigation that is ongoing. The safety of working environments is a top priority for us, and we take this matter very seriously.”
Entertainment One added, “We have initiated an independent investigation which is ongoing and as such, it would be inappropriate to comment at this time.”