An independent, third-party investigation into allegations made by actress Afton Williamson ahead of her abrupt exit from ABC’s The Rookie has ended, and its findings exonerate those named in the claims.
The investigation, ordered by production house eOne, was commissioned by law firm Mitchell Silberberg & Knupp LLP, who engaged EXTTI, a third-party firm “recognized for their extensive expertise in investigating allegations of harassment, discrimination and retaliation in the workplace.”
“[W]e 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,” reads the statement from eOne. “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.”
An ABC spokesperson responded to eOne’s full statement (below), saying, “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.” (Read Williamson’s reaction to the investigation’s conclusion.)
In a message posted to Instagram on Aug. 4, Williamson — who played Talia Bishop, the training officer for Nathan Fillion’s title character — alleged that starting with The Rookie‘s pilot shoot in spring 2018 and throughout all of Season 1, she “experienced racial discrimination/racially charged inappropriate comments from the hair department,” as well as sexual harassment from a recurring guest star (whom she eventually named). Williamson alleged that the bullying from the hair department escalated into sexual assault at the Season 1 wrap party.
“HR protocol was never adhered to following the above reports given by me to my showrunner/EP [Alexi Hawley], and an investigation was never issued for any of my claims,” Williamson claimed in her Instagram post. “Despite being told that “everything was handled” following a June meeting that she called — involving Hawley, two other producers, her agent and a SAG-AFTRA union representative — “The investigation hadn’t even begun and Season 2 had already started filming.” As a result, she said, “I walked.” (Read how Williamson’s character, Talia Bishop, will be written out for Season 2.)
Showrunner Hawley previously told TVLine of Williamson’s most unexpected exit, “It’s not really my place to get into her personal decision,” while ABC entertainment president Karey Burke admitted to reporters at this summer’s TCA press tour that she “doesn’t have a lot of answers” on the matter.
The full statement from eOne is below:
We are today addressing the findings of the investigation initiated as a result of the claims made by actor Afton Williamson regarding our series The Rookie. The investigation was commissioned via law firm Mitchell Silberberg & Knupp LLP who engaged third-party firm EXTTI, recognized for their extensive expertise in investigating allegations of harassment, discrimination and retaliation in the workplace.
We take all allegations of inappropriate conduct very seriously, particularly when the allegations involve discrimination or sexual harassment of any nature. We appreciate the cooperation of all those who were interviewed, including Ms. Williamson, the individuals she identified by name, and several other relevant production and staff members.
The investigation encompassed nearly 400 hours of interviews and review of evidence, involving a significant amount of material, including video, that was provided to and examined by the investigator. 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. 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.
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.
We continue to focus on fostering a safe and respectful work environment for all our corporate and production employees and further reinforce our policies and procedures. To protect the privacy of all those interviewed, the investigator’s report will not be available publicly.