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Afton Williamson identifies guest star and hair department head she claims sexually harassed her

Actress Afton Williamson has identified the recurring guest star and hair department head who she claims both sexually harassed her while filming ‘The Rookie’.

Williamson took to her Instagram on Monday night to accuse fellow actor Demetrius Grosse of misconduct. She also names Sally Nicole Ciganovich as the hair department head who allegedly racially bullied and sexually assaulted her. 

A representative Grosse could not be reached for a comment. 

‘This season on The Rookie, I was sexually harassed by fellow actor Demetrius Grosse,’ she said in the post. ‘I was racially bullied and discriminated against and sexually assaulted by hair department head Sally Nicole Ciganovich.’ 

Williamson’s assertion comes a day after she announced on Instagram that she would not be returning to the ABC Drama amidst her allegations. She took the time to thank her supporters in the post.  

‘I am so beyond overwhelmed by the outpouring of love, kind words, scriptures, strength filled quotes and devout support that has come my way,’ she continued. 

‘One Instagram post is just like those 2 fish and 5 loaves of Bread. The rippling effect it has had in just a few hours shows how much this world is aching with victims of racism, discrimination, sexual harassment, sexual assault, sexual abuse all of it. 

The actress stressed that while she once struggled calling herself a victim, she now honors that name and used it as a rallying cry for other survivors of assault.  

Williamson added: ‘If you have experienced any of the above, you are too and I for one stand with you and I’m no longer afraid to be vocal about it. We can stand together. Let’s change this sickness. That change starts with US.’ 

Grosse, who played detective Kevin Wolfe in five episodes of the The Rookie, has also appeared in the film Rampage and on TV shows Hawaii Five-O, NCIS: New Orleans and Westworld. 

The actress, 34, from Toledo, Ohio, shared a lengthy post on her Instagram account informing fans of her decision to leave the show on Sunday. 

She claimed the abuse started during the show’s pilot, continued throughout the first season and ended in a sexual assault during The Rookie’s wrap party. 

Williamson said she reported the abuse to the showrunner, but claims he never passed it on to human resources. 

Her post stated: ‘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. 

‘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.’

Entertainment One (eOne), the lead studio behind The Rookie, is investigating the claims.  

It’s unclear if the investigation was opened before or after Williamson departed the show. 

An ABC spokesperson said: ‘The allegations involve a production from Entertainment One. 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.

‘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,’ eOne said in a statement of its own late Sunday afternoon. 

ABC Entertainment President Karey Burke said Monday she is withholding judgment on the fate of the show pending an investigation into the claims.

‘I’m waiting for the results of the investigation, just as you are, to get more answers,’ Burke said during a Q&A session with the Television Critics Association.

She said she learned in June that the show’s producer, Entertainment One, initiated a third-party investigation of the behavior that Williamson alleged took place during the crime drama’s first season that began airing in October 2018.

Burke was asked if ABC is concerned about whether it has inadequate oversight of shows made for the network or if it can trust the investigation.

‘I’m hopeful those results will be independent and trustworthy and anticipate they will be,’ Burke replied. ‘At that time, those answers and those conclusions will help guide us about how to handle situations like this in the future and if, in fact, there has been any sort of communication breakdown.’

There’s history, under Burke’s predecessor, Channing Dungey, of responding swiftly to a trouble-plagued series. When the network was faced in 2018 with a racist tweet by ‘Roseanne’ star Roseanne Barr, the rebooted sitcom’s production was suspended. Barr was subsequently fired and the show was reinvented as ‘The Conners.’

It’s premature to decide the future of ‘The Rookie,’ Burke said. The series, with Nathan Fillion in the title role of a new police officer, is set to return for its second season September 29.

Entertainment One said Sunday that 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,’ Entertainment One said in its statement.     

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