California Hits Disney & CBS With Criminal Minds Sexual Harassment Suit

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The California Department of Fair Employment and Housing has filed a discrimination suit against Disney and CBS Studios, alleging the companies allowed Criminal Minds cinematographer Greg St. Johns to get away with sexual harassment for 14 years.

The suit alleges that St. Johns touched men on the groin and butt, and kissed and caressed their necks and shoulders.

It also claims that, over the years, more than a dozen men were fired for complaining about his behavior.

The Team Reunites - Criminal Minds Season 15 Episode 10

ABC and CBS jointly produced the drama that aired on CBS for 15 seasons. 

St. Johns exited the show in 2018 when it emerged that crew members had complained on multiple occasions about his behavior.

Only Departure - Criminal Minds Season 15 Episode 10

Variety reported at the time that the staffer was kept on the show despite the abuse allegations. 

The lawsuit was filed in the Los Angeles Superior Court and names Disney, ABC Studios and CBS Studios as defendants. 

Executive producers Erica Messer, Harry Bring, Breen Frazier, and Glenn Kershaw are also named, alongside co-producer Stacey Beneville.

“Protected by the executive production team––including show runner Erica Messer, executive producer Harry Bring, executive producer John Breen Frazier, director Glenn Kershaw, and unit production manager Stacey Beneville––St. Johns continued his unlawful conduct for years,” the filing notes.

Target Practice - Criminal Minds Season 15 Episode 9

“Defendants’ executive team not only had actual and constructive knowledge of St. Johns’ abusive conduct, they condoned it."

“No necessary steps to prevent sex-based harassment and discrimination were taken over the years, nor were appropriate corrective actions. Instead, the executives fired anyone who resisted or who tacitly evaded St. Johns’ advances or abuse.”

The DFEH investigation kicked off in March 2019 when two former employees filed administrative complaints. 

The suit alleges that St. Johns was given an "enhanced severance" when he was ousted from the show following the aforementioned Variety report. 

Undercover Backup - Criminal Minds Season 15 Episode 9

“Defendants chose to act in conscious disregard of its employees’ rights by ignoring the complaints made by the crewmembers,” the suit continues.

“It was not until the media made St. Johns’ conduct public and threatened their image that defendants removed St. Johns from the show.”

The civil complaint states claims of sex discrimination, sexual harassment, retaliation, failure to prevent discrimination and harassment, violation of personal rights, and acts of violence.

Paul Dailly is the Associate Editor for TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter.

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