ABC executive resigns amid sex harassment probe

Thu Jul 29, 2010 12:57am EDT
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By James Hibberd

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - The head of entertainment programing and production at ABC resigned from the network as the company conducted an internal sexual harassment investigation, a source said Wednesday.

The disclosure came a day after Steve McPherson abruptly stepped down as president of ABC Entertainment Group. Disney-owned ABC did not deny allegations of inappropriate conduct involving were involved.

McPherson's attorney, Tom Hoberman, issued the following statement to The Hollywood Reporter:

"Upon Steve McPherson returning to work from his vacation on Monday, he made a voluntary decision to resign and ABC accepted his resignation. It is not uncommon for high level executives to be the subject of gossip and innuendo. That would include rumors of internal situations which can easily be misinterpreted or misrepresented. Seems like it goes with the territory, and there is nothing further to discuss."

McPherson, who ran ABC's entertainment department for the past six years, and sister studio since last year, resigned days before ABC was due to present its fall programing to television critics.

A source says multiple harassment complaints were made involving the entertainment chief, and that the company had been conducting a formal investigation into his behavior for three weeks leading up to his resignation.

Sources said the alleged incidents involved several women, including some executives and on-air talent. The inquiry expanded to include email. A source said an incident at a company retreat, witnessed by more than one staffer, was also part of the inquiry.

In response to repeated requests for comment, ABC reissued its original statement announcing McPherson's departure.