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Actress Afton Williamson quits ABC's 'The Rookie,' alleges sexual harassment, discrimination

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Posted at 12:26 PM, Aug 05, 2019
and last updated 2019-08-05 15:26:23-04

NEW YORK (AP) - Afton Williamson, co-star of the ABC crime series "The Rookie," said she's quitting the show because of sexual harassment and racial discrimination she experienced during the show's first season.

In an Instagram post Sunday, Williamson said that throughout the filming of the show's pilot, "I experienced racial discrimination/racially charged inappropriate comments from the hair department."

Williamson said the treatment worsened when she was sexually harassed by a recurring guest star, bullied by executive producers and ultimately was sexually assaulted by a crew member at a wrap party.

ABC Studios responded later Sunday with a statement, largely referring to its production partners, Entertainment One.

"The allegations involve a production from Entertainment One," the network said. "In late June, eOne made us aware and informed us that they launched an investigation that is ongoing. The safety of working environments is a top priority for us, and we take this matter very seriously."

Entertainment One, in a statement of its own, said it takes Williamson's claims seriously. "We have initiated an independent investigation which is ongoing and as such, it would be inappropriate to comment at this time," the production company said.

A representative for Williamson didn't respond to messages seeking further details on the actress's claims, or whether the alleged sexual assault was reported to the police.

Williamson, who is African American, was also highly critical of how her claims were handled by showrunner and executive producer Alexi Hawley, who is white. Williamson said she filed reports on the incidents to Hawley, but they weren't seriously investigated by the network or shared by Hawley with other producers.

"After my initial report of sexual harassment, I was assured that the actor would be fired," said Williamson of the guest star. "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."

Representatives for Hawley didn't immediately respond to messages Sunday.

Williamson co-starred in the Los Angeles-based ABC drama. In the show, Nathan Fillion stars as a rookie police officer.

View this post on Instagram

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” ❤️🙏🏽

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