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‘The Rookie’ co-star Afton Williamson quits show, alleging racial discrimination, sexual harassment

Afton Williamson attends the PaleyFest Fall TV Previews of 'The Rookie' at The Paley Center for Media in Beverly Hills, Calif., on Sept. 8, 2018. Willy Sanjuan/Invision/AP, File

ABC’s hit crime series The Rookie has lost one of its co-stars, Afton Williamson, after she alleged she was both racially bullied and sexually harassed by members of the cast and crew.

Williamson, 34, made the claims early Sunday morning in a lengthy Instagram post, which announced she would not be returning to The Rookie for its upcoming second season.

“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.

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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,Demetrius Grosse,and the racist commentary & bullying from the Hair Dept.Head, Sally Ciganovich 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.Ciganovich 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 Grosse 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. Grosse 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 Grosse 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” ❤️🙏🏽

A post shared by Afton Williamson (@therealaftonw) on

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Williamson first pointed her finger towards the head of the show’s hair department, Sallie Ciganovich, alleging Ciganovich made racist comments about her. Williamson also accused Ciganovich of sexually assaulting her later on at the show’s Season 1 wrap party.

Though Williamson did not detail the alleged incident, actor Demetrius Grosse was also thrown into the mix as Williamson claimed the recurring Rookie guest star had “sexually harassed” her, too.

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Williamson claimed Ciganovich was eventually fired following the alleged sexual assault — not before, when Williamson says she was first accused of making racist comments, but only after the actress allegedly told the showrunner she had been sexually assaulted by Ciganovich.

The actress later claimed that her complaint was not passed along to ABC’s human resources team as “promised” to her by the showrunner.

The statement continued: “Ciganovich was fired only after the sexual assault and not for an entire year of outward racism/racially charged language and bullying in and out of the hair and makeup trailer.”

Actor Demetrius Grosse in Love Jacked (2018). Inner City Films /Courtesy Everett Collection

Williamson claimed that an official investigation was never launched into either of the alleged incidents involving Ciganovich or Grosse. She later claimed the showrunner promised Grosse, 38, would be fired from the series.

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“I was asked to film with him the very next day, as a courtesy to the script, even though we had not begun filming the episode,” Williamson said.

“Grosse reappeared on our call sheet at the end of the season, I was even written in scenes with him.”

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Williamson wrote that The Rookie‘s showrunner had neither fired Grosse nor reported the alleged harassment to human resources.

“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,” she concluded.

Nathan Fillion and Afton Williamson in ABC’s 2019 RV series, The Rookie. Tony Rivetti via Getty Images

During a recent interview with the Hollywood Reporter, president of ABC Entertainment Karey Burke addressed William’s allegations.

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“I don’t have a lot of answers,” she began. “I wish I had more. I learned alongside my colleagues at the end of June that there were allegations and an investigation had been launched by Entertainment One.”

“I’m waiting for results of that investigation to get more answers,” Burke said.

A spokesperson of eOne, which co-produces the series, provided this statement to Global News: “We take claims of this nature very seriously. We have initiated an independent investigation which is ongoing and as such, it would not be appropriate to comment at this time.”

Global News has reached out to representatives of Grosse as well as ABC for further comment.

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After receiving an influx of support via social media, Williamson posted a second statement to Instagram, expressing her gratitude and appreciation and adding that it felt important for her to utilize her platforms for the greater good.

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“Now is the best time in the world to be a woman and I have a platform,” she wrote. “So it’s time to use my voice. Strength comes from within. It comes from above.”

In conclusion, Williamson reiterated her claims: “I was sexually harassed by fellow actor Demetrius Grosse. I was racially bullied, discriminated against and sexually assaulted by hair department head Sally [sic] Nicole Ciganovich.”
adam.wallis@globalnews.ca

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