Allegations of Racial Discrimination, Sexual Harassment on 'The Rookie'

By Christopher Coble, Esq. on August 07, 2019

"Throughout the filming of the pilot, I experienced Racial Discrimination/Racially Charged inappropriate comments from the hair department and bullying from Executive Producers. During the Season, it continued along with Sexual Harassment from a recurring guest star, Demetrius Grosse, and the racist commentary & bullying from the Hair Dept. Head, Sally Ciganovich escalated into Sexual Assault at our Wrap party."

Probably not the words you want to hear from one of your show's co-stars, and definitely not something you want to read on her public Instagram account as she airs sexual assault and racial discrimination claims against your crew and announces to the world that she's leaving the show.

But that's how actor Afton Williamson is leaving ABC's "The Rookie," just as filming for the show's second season has begun.

The Voice

Williamson also claims that her allegations of sexual harassment went undocumented, unreported, and uninvestigated, and that Ciganovich "was fired ONLY after the sexual assault and NOT for an entire year of outward racism/racially charged language and bullying behavior in and out of the Hair and Makeup trailer." She says an investigation only began after she called a meeting in June following the announcement that "The Rookie" would return for a second season. At that meeting, she claims, "It was clear to all present in the meeting that the Showrunner had not shared my reports with the any of the producers."

She also says that not only was Grosse not fired after her allegations, but she was forced to film new scenes with him, including the day after the alleged sexual harassment. Despite assurances that "everything was handled," Williamson says, an investigation into her claims still had not begun by the time filming for the second season started. "I turned it down and I walked," she said. "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."

Waiting for Answers

USA Today reports that ABC entertainment president Karey Burke said she's "frustrated" and doesn't "have a lot of answers" currently in response to Williamson's allegations. She said she only learned of the allegations when the investigation began at the end of June. "I wish I had more," she told reporters. "We are waiting for answers ... As soon as we learn more, we will make a determination based on what’s found."

"The Rookie" is produced by Entertainment One, which is investigating Williamson's claims. Outside of the internal investigation, Williamson hasn't filed any civil lawsuit or claims with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. And Grosse and Ciganovich have yet to respond to her allegations.

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