Things just got a whole lot worse for talk show host Ellen DeGeneres after dozens of former staffers came forward to allege that top executives on “The Ellen Degeneres Show” have been engaging in sexual misconduct with lower level employees for years.
BuzzFeed News reported on Thursday that it spoke with 36 former employees of the talk show, and many of them corroborated incidents of sexual misconduct, harassment and assault. One former staffer claimed that head writer and executive producer Kevin Leman requested a hand job and oral sex from him in a bathroom during a party back in 2013.
Another former employee allegedly saw Leman grab the penis of a production assistant, while a third person said she witnessed Leman grope a production assistant inside a vehicle and kiss his neck in May of 2017.
Multiple former staffers who had different levels of seniority with the show claimed that Leman often made sexually explicit comments in the office, including pointing out male workers’ bulges in their crotches, or ask them questions such as, “Are you a top or a bottom?”
“It’s masked in sarcasm, but it’s not sarcasm,” one ex-staffer said, with another adding, “He’d probably do it in front of 10 people and they’d laugh because ‘it’s just Kevin being Kevin,’ but if you’re in a position of power at a company, you don’t just get to touch me like that.”
Leeman has fired back by denying “any kind of sexual impropriety.”
“I started at the Ellen Show as a PA more than 17 years ago and have devoted my career to work my way to the position I now hold,” he said in a statement. “While my job as head writer is to come up with jokes — and, during that process, we can occasionally push the envelope — I’m horrified that some of my attempts at humor may have caused offense.”
“I have always aimed to treat everyone on the staff with kindness, inclusivity and respect,” Leeman continued. “In my whole time on the show, to my knowledge, I’ve never had a single HR or inter-personal complaint made about me, and I am devastated beyond belief that this kind of malicious and misleading article could be published.”
DeGeneres herself also responded to these sexual misconduct claims by saying that she plans to “correct” the issues that are happening behind the scenes on her show.
“As we’ve grown exponentially, I’ve not been able to stay on top of everything and relied on others to do their jobs as they knew I’d want them done. Clearly some didn’t,” DeGeneres said in a statement. “That will now change and I’m committed to ensuring this does not happen again.”
It’s been reported that the talk show’s executive producer Ed Glavin is going to be fired after five former staffers said that he “had a reputation for being handsy with women,” especially in the control room.
“You could definitely see the creep factor and the creepy touching. That was out in the open for everybody to see,” said one former staffer who alleged that Glavin often touched her inappropriately in the control room.
“Obviously, no one wants that and no one wants to be uncomfortably touched by someone … but you didn’t want to piss them off or you would be fired, so it was just that culture of fear,” she added.
A total of 47 former staffers accused Glavin of leading with intimidation and fear. He has yet to respond to the claims that have been made against him.