Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Anchor Behaving Badly

TwcAs reported by The Smoking Gun, Hillary Andrews, a former anchor on The Weather Channel won an arbitration award against TWC for sexual harasssment engaged in by her co-anchor, Bob Stokes. The network is now seeking to keep secret the details of the arbitrator's 17-page report, which was apparently very critical of Stokes and TWC management, while Andrews wants to publicly file the document in a lawsuit she has brought against Stokes in a Georgia state court.

Court records show that Andrews was paired with Stokes after her September 2003 hiring, and that she replaced a female "on-camera meteorologist" who had worked with Stokes for three years. According to Andrews's lawsuit against Stokes, the prior anchor was abused daily by him and "routinely hid in the women's dressing room in between shifts to avoid contact with him." The woman, Andrews alleged, was forced out of TWC after repeatedly complaining to management about Stokes's harassment. Andrews claims that "history quickly repeated itself" when Stokes began harassing her, though his behavior was "worse for [her] than for her predecessors because Stokes was sexually attracted to her and romantically obsessed with her." Stokes, she claimed, made crude sexual remarks to her, leered at her chest, and followed her into the women's dressing room. He also allegedly questioned her "over and over again, non-stop" about her sex life, . . . . When she rebuffed his advances, Andrews charged, Stokes's "hostility and volatility became a constant" and he sought to "sabotage" her on-air performance and even resorted to insulting her during live shows. Though initially "loath to complain" about Stokes for fear of "career suicide," Andrews eventually reported his behavior to TWC officials and sought a reassignment with a new co-anchor. Instead, Andrews alleged, she was relegated to a series of undesirable assignments, including "the overnight shift--the same assignment [TWC] had given Ms. Andrews's predecessor after she complained about Stokes."

TWC's owner wants the report to remain secret as it seeks to sell TWC. Considering that my trainer at the gym this morning told me about this, I think secrecy is a losing battle.

MM

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