Criminal Minds' Sexual Harassment Lawsuit Has Been Settled, With Millions Awarded To Accusers

Lewis, JJ, Rossi and Garcia in Criminal Minds: Evolution
(Image credit: Paramount+)

When it comes to fictional storytelling, the Criminal Minds franchise is as busy as ever thanks to its darker-than-broadcast Evolution run on Paramount+. Things weren’t so wholly positive behind the scenes, however, due to an ongoing lawsuit hinging on sexual harassment complaints (amidst others) against the drama’s former director of photography, Greg St. Johns. Now, it appears such legal issues have been handled without further turmoil, with ABC Signature agreeing to pay out several million dollars to settle the California Civil Rights Department suit.

The Cali agency announced the resolution on Monday, December 19, revealing that $3 million is being shelled out by the Walt Disney Co. production banner ABC Signature as a way to compensate for the complaints brought against former DP Greg St. Johns. It was noted in a statement that the settlement will be split across an estimated twelve complainants, and that ABC Signature is now on the hook to “revise and distribute policies” for all of its shows so that they can avoid repeat incidents that share anything in common with these allegations. 

The main way this is being enforced, according to the statement, is through revised training for the productions’ employees and human resources representatives, and to make sure that studio execs are in regular communication with HR workers and other set supervisors to make sure there aren’t on-set complaints going unaddressed by higher-ups. As well, annual compliance summaries will reportedly be shared with the Civil Rights Department.

CRD Director Kevin Kish shared this response after the settlement was finalized:

Crew members courageously came forward to assert their right to make a living free from sexual harassment. No matter the industry, workplace setting or gender of the employees, companies must address credible complaints of harassment and retaliation and take action against harassers.

Back in 2018, multiple Criminal Minds crew members went public with accusations against Greg St. Johns, saying that for all or part of his 14 years behind the scenes on the broadcast drama, the DP sexually harassed male crew members through threatening comments, unwanted touching, careessing and flirting, and other forms of bullying and aggression. It’s alleged that this behavior continued without being challenged by any executive producers or those in HR, despite complaints being filed through the proper official channels, and that some who brought the issue up with bosses were then fired. Soon after the comments spread around, St. Johns left Criminal Minds.

It was two years later when the California Civil Rights Department entered the picture and brought the lawsuit to court, claiming ABC Signature and its employees violated the Fair Employment and Housing Act, the Ralph Civil Rights Act, and the Civil Code meant to prevent sexual harassment from becoming a problem in a professional setting. Prior to that, former camera operator Todd Durboraw filed his own personal lawsuit against St. Johns, claiming the DP regularly groped his genitals and other private areas, using both his hands and feet. It’s unclear if Durboraw was part of the settlement, or if his case remained a standalone issue. 

 Criminal Minds: Evolution is available to stream with a Paramount+ subscription, with the spinoff season currently in the midst of its midseason hiatus, and new episodes will return to the streaming platform on Thursday, January 12. Head to our 2023 TV premiere schedule in the meantime to see what other new and returning shows will be popping up soon.

Nick Venable
Assistant Managing Editor

Nick is a Cajun Country native and an Assistant Managing Editor with a focus on TV and features. His humble origin story with CinemaBlend began all the way back in the pre-streaming era, circa 2009, as a freelancing DVD reviewer and TV recapper.  Nick leapfrogged over to the small screen to cover more and more television news and interviews, eventually taking over the section for the current era and covering topics like Yellowstone, The Walking Dead and horror. Born in Louisiana and currently living in Texas — Who Dat Nation over America’s Team all day, all night — Nick spent several years in the hospitality industry, and also worked as a 911 operator. If you ever happened to hear his music or read his comics/short stories, you have his sympathy.