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Afton Williamson, Demetrius Grosse respond to ‘The Rookie’ investigation

Afton Williamson
Afton Williamson at the Paley Center for Media in Beverly Hills on Sept. 8.
(Invision / Associated Press)

Just over a month after actress Afton Williamson made allegations that she had been sexually harassed and had endured racial discrimination on the set of the ABC drama series “The Rookie,” the production studio behind the show said an independent investigation had cleared those accused of any inappropriate conduct.

“As a result of the independent investigation, we have concluded that those identified in Ms. Williamson’s allegations did not conduct themselves in an unlawful manner or demonstrate behavior inappropriate for the workplace,” Entertainment One said in a statement Tuesday. “It was also concluded that the executive producers, including showrunner Alexi Hawley, addressed matters of which they were made aware promptly and in a fair and reasonable manner.”

eOne, which co-produced “The Rookie” with ABC, continued: “We recognize and respect that as individuals, the lens through which we view situations, interactions and comments can differ based on our experiences and perspectives. As such, we regret that Ms. Williamson’s time on the series was not a positive one for her, and we respect her decision to move on to other projects.”

The investigator’s report will not be made available to the public.

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“We are glad that eOne has completed an investigation into allegations on the set of ‘The Rookie.’ We are confident that eOne takes these matters seriously and that they will continue to look for the best ways to surface concerns and address complaints,” an ABC spokesperson said in a separate statement.

Williamson brought forward her allegations in two Instagram posts in early August. In the first, she announced that she would not be returning to the show because of bullying and harassment she had been subjected to by the hair department, executive producers and an unnamed guest star. She also said that she reported the allegations to creator and showrunner Hawley, who failed to take action.

Williamson later identified the guest star as Demetrius Grosse, who played detective Kevin Wolfe in the series, and named hair department head Sallie Nicole Ciganovich as the crew member who allegedly made racially insensitive remarks to her.

“Throughout the filming of the pilot, I experienced Racial Discrimination/Racially Charged inappropriate comments from the hair department and bullying from Executive Producers,” Williamson wrote. “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.”

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In a statement in August, ABC said it had been made aware of Williamson’s allegations and eOne’s investigation in late June, months after she said she reported her concerns to Hawley.

A few hours after eOne issued its statement on the findings of the investigation, Williamson responded in an Instagram post.

“What saddens me the most is that the lengths that were taken to Deceive, Lie, and Cover Up the Truth, were far greater than those made to Protect and Maintain a Safe Working Environment for Employees,” Williamson wrote.

She continued: “My prayer is that we get to a point in this Industry where we don’t just Talk about it in 2 hour Mandatory Meetings. But we adhere to Keeping the Promises Made to Everyone on every set, Tirelessly Fulfilling their Dreams with Passion and Dedication.”

In a statement emailed to the Times Wednesday morning, Grosse’s attorney, Andrew Brettler, wrote, “Demetrius Grosse was wrongfully accused and has been exonerated of the alleged misconduct regarding his work on ‘The Rookie.’ After a lengthy and thorough investigation, independent counsel concluded, unequivocally, that the allegations leveled against him were completely meritless. ... We’re glad that the investigation has been completed and are grateful to eOne for its unwavering support. Onward.” In the statement, Brettler also accused the media of libeling his client, and claimed that Grosse has lost multiple jobs as a result of the allegations.

“The Rookie” is set to return for its second season on Sept. 29.

Times staff writer Tracy Brown contributed to this report.

Updates:
10:48 AM, Sep. 18, 2019: This post was updated to include Grosse’s response to the report
8:52 PM, Sep. 17, 2019: This post was updated to include Williamson’s response to the report.

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