A day after ABC‘s The Rookie star Afton Williamson posted on social media that she would not be returning to the Nathan Fillion-starrer for a second season – alleging “racial discrimination/racially charged inappropriate comments” as well as instances of bullying, sexual harassment, and sexual assault, ABC Entertainment President Karey Burke addressed the matter at Monday’s Television Critics Association (TCA) summer press event.
With co-producer Entertainment One having “initiated an independent investigation” into the allegations, Burke expressed frustration at not having more answers:
“I am frustrated, I don’t have a lot of answers; I wish I had more. I heard at the end of June that there were allegations and an investigation has been launched. We are waiting for answers… As soon as we learn more, we will make determination based on what’s found.”
Burke expressed frustration at not having more answers but hoped that the investigation would yield “results that are independent and trustworthy.” Burke would not comment on the claim that The Rookie executive producer/showrunner Alexi Hawley did not act on Williamson’s complaints – referring back to the current investigation with the hope that it “will guide us how to handle similar situations in the future.”
In her post, Williamson claims she quit The Rookie because of “racial discrimination/racially charged inappropriate comments” as well as instances of bullying and sexual harassment. Williamson alleged instances of inappropriate behavior by the hair department and a “recurring guest star,” and that they were reported to executive producer/showrunner Hawley but her claims were never formally investigated – and that one instance of sexual harassment escalated to sexual assault at the series’ wrap party before the overall matter was addressed.
Williamson – whose Talia Bishop was John Nolan’s (Fillion) training officer – says her decision to leave the series came when she realized that her claims were never take to the proper Human Resources channels to be vetted, and that the recurring guest star she named was allowed to return to the show.
Here’s a look at Williamson’s original post:
“I will not be returning for Season 2 of The Rookie. I owe it to you my amazing fans to share the Truth. 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 and the racist commentary & bullying from the Hair Dept. Head escalated into Sexual Assault at our Wrap party.The Sexual Harassment though reported directly to the Showrunner/EP remained undocumented and was not reported to HR as promised.
The Hair Dept. Head 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. HR protocol was never adhered to following the above reports given by me to my Showrunner/EP and an investigation was never issued for any of my claims. The only time I was asked to participate in an investigation was after a meeting I called in June following our Season 2 announcement. This meeting included the Showrunner and two other producers as well as my agent and SAG-AFTRA Union Rep. It was clear to all present in the meeting that the Showrunner had not shared my reports with the any of the producers.
After my initial report of sexual harassment, I was assured that the actor would be fired. 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. This actor reappeared on our call sheet at the end of the season, I was even written in scenes with him. I asked the Showrunner about this and he admitted to me that the actor had not been fired nor had he gotten HR involved.
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. Strength comes from within. It comes from Above. “Greater is He that is within Me than he that is in the world” “