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Despite lasting for 15 seasons as one of CBS' most recognized crime dramas, Criminal Minds' final handful of seasons were plagued by behind-the-scenes controversies and changes within the cast and crew. Perhaps the most serious problem was former director of photography Greg St. Johns, who was fired from Criminal Minds in 2018 after facing multiple sexual harassment allegations and complaints about workplace bullying and rude conduct. Now, two years later, Disney is one of the big companies facing a lawsuit from the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing.
The lawsuit, which was filed last week and can be seen here, is targeting Disney, ABC Studios, and CBS Studios for discrimination and for allegedly allowing Greg St. Johns to conduct in on-set behavior for 14 years that included sexual harassment, various forms of professional discrimination and retaliation. The studios above were listed as the defendants, along with a handful of Criminal Minds' executive producers, including later-years showrunner Erica Messer, Glenn Kershaw, Breen Frazier and Harry Bring. Stacey Beneville, one of the show's unit production managers, is also identified as a defendant.
After days of silence, a spokesperson for ABC Studios released a statement regarding the lawsuit's accusations, according to Deadline. Read it below.
The Company works hard to maintain a work environment free from discrimination, harassment, or retaliation. In this instance the Company took corrective action. We cooperated with the Department of Fair Employment and Housing during its investigation, and we regret that we were unable to reach a reasonable resolution with the Department. We now intend to defend the asserted claims vigorously.
As of the time of this writing, CBS Studios still has yet to make any kind of response about the lawsuit.
As detrimental as Greg St. Johns' alleged behavior was in a vacuum, California's Department of Fair Employment and Housing is spotlighting just how long the former D.P. was allegedly allowed to continue engaging in such misconduct. St. Johns worked on Criminal Minds for 14 seasons, despite previous complaints reportedly having been made in the past. He was only fired in 2018 once the public was made aware of the situation, prompted by complaints made public by multiple former employees (one of which later sued ABC and CBS' studios) who alleged they were harassed and/or unfairly terminated by St. Johns.
The lawsuit claims that among other unlawful actions, Greg St. Johns touched male employees' genitals and anuses, and also kissed and caressed crew members' necks, shoulders and ears, allegedly all within full view of executive producers, other crew members and/or members of the management team. The lawsuit also calls St. Johns out for "tyrant" and abusive behavior, saying that those who accepted his behavior without complaints were treated with favor as opposed to those who resisted against or spoke up about his behavior.
To that end, the lawsuit claims that higher-up executives ignored the complaints and failed to take necessary action in order to prevent Greg St. Johns' behavior. What's more, it's alleged that more than a dozen different male crew members were fired from Criminal Minds after complaining to employers, all at the request of St. Johns.
Stay tuned to CinemaBlend for more updates on the Criminal Minds lawsuit against Greg St. Johns. While waiting to hear more, check out what the showrunner told us about the series finale's unseen cameos, and keep current with everything hitting CBS and beyond with our 2020 Summer TV premiere schedule.