The Rookie Investigation Finds No Wrongdoing in Afton Williamson's Misconduct Allegations
Entertainment One, the production company of the ABC dramedy series The Rookie, has completed their investigation into former lead star Afton Williamson’s claims of racial bullying and sexual harassment on set during the first season.
On Tuesday, eOne released a statement to PEOPLE and said that those investigated on the set “did not conduct themselves in an unlawful manner or demonstrate behavior inappropriate for the workplace,” despite Williamson’s claims.
The statement said that the investigation was done by 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.”
The investigation took “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,” the statement read.
“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,” eOne said. “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.”
In conclusion, the production company said that they “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.”
The full investigator’s report will not be released to the public.
In a statement to PEOPLE, an ABC spokesperson said, “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.”
A rep for Williamson, 34, did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment.
On Aug. 4, the actress, who played training officer Talia Bishop opposite Nathan Fillion’s title character on the series, confirmed reports that she would not be returning for the show’s upcoming sophomore season — and shared an Instagram that detailed her reasons for the exit.
In the post, the actress claimed that from the filming of the pilot in Spring 2018, throughout all of the first season, she “experienced racial discrimination/racially charged inappropriate comments from the hair department and bullying from executive producers,” as well as sexual harassment from an unnamed guest star.
The day after her post, eOne and an ABC spokesperson confirmed to PEOPLE that an investigation had been underway.
The actress wrote in her Instagram post that she originally took her on-set complaints to The Rookie’s creator, showrunner and executive producer, Alexi Hawley, who she claimed did nothing to look into the issues.
“The sexual harassment though reported directly to [Hawley] remained undocumented and was not reported to HR as promised,” she wrote. “HR protocol was never adhered to … and an investigation was never issued for any of my claims.”
Williamson claimed that she eventually called a meeting following the show’s season 2 pickup in June.
“This meeting included the showrunner and two other producers as well as my agent and SAG-AFTRA Union Rep,” Williamson said. “It was clear to all present in the meeting that the showrunner had not shared my reports with any of the producers.”
Though Williamson said the head of the hair department was fired after the alleged sexual assault at the wrap party, the actress noted that the department head was not fired until after “an entire year of outward racism/racially charged language and bullying behavior in and out of the hair and makeup trailer.”
As for the unnamed guest star, Williamson said she was “assured that the actor would be fired” after her initial claim of sexual harassment, but 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 yet.”
“This actor reappeared on our call sheet at the end of the season, I was even written in scenes with him,” she said. “I asked the showrunner about this and he admitted to me that the actor had not been fired nor had he gotten HR involved.”
In the end, Williamson said she decided to leave the show on her own terms.
“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,” the actress claimed. “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,” Williamson added. “Strength comes from within. It comes from above. ‘Greater is He that is within me than he that is in the world’ ❤️🙏🏽.”
The day after Williamson’s claims, ABC’s network entertainment president, Karen Burke, addressed the allegations while at ABC’s TCA session.
“I am frustrated, I don’t have a lot of answers; I wish I had more,” Burke said. “I heard at the end of June that there were allegations, and an investigation has been launched. We are waiting for answers. As soon as we learn more, we will make determination based on what’s found.”
She went on to say that she hopes eOne’s investigation into the matter would provide “results that are independent and trustworthy” in a way that “will guide us how to handle similar situations in the future.”
Season 2 of The Rookie is set to premiere on ABC on Sept. 29.
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