With fans outraged by the firing of “The Young and the Restless” actor Michael Muhney, after being accused of groping, harassing, bullying a 19-year-old female actress. It seems that this scandal is taking the Hollywood route, the salacious and tawdry slant, and no one seems to be interested in the real and most important legal issues.
Highlight Hollywood spoke exclusively with our beloved FAB FOUR; Our 2013’s Advocate of the Year, Seattle based renowned attorney Anne Bremner, who appears on HLN and CNN daily, Fox News legal analyst and bestselling author Lis Wiehl, who appears on Bill O’Reilly’s “The Factor” as well as his radio program, world renowned victims advocate and attorney Gloria Allred and legal analyst, bestselling author and regular TV correspondent on CNN, HLN, CBS Lisa Bloom.
It’s been really amazing to me to see the level of hatred the alleged victim has endured, and outright distrust and disdain by some viewers of the hit drama “The Young and the Restless.” The fact is, CBS’s President of Daytime TV Angelica McDaniel and “Y&R” executive producer Jill Farren Phelps both sat on this situation for six-months, hoping it would blow over, and go away, and when the alleged victim continued to complain, they fired Muhney, and immediately began a campaign of water-torture for fans. Leaking details, which they didn’t openly admit, because they never bothered to do what they were morally obligated to do; that is, report to LAPD and Screen Actors Guild. This was a 19-year-old young lady. We have no direct evidence if any of her accusations are true or false, but I can assure you, what fans are posting on message boards could not be further from the truth. They say, she did not report it, she did. They say she didn’t go to the police, we can assure you, they were contacted. We will not say by whom, because the investigation into Farren Phelps and McDaniel’s attempt to cover it all up and go on about daily work, when the set was a hotbed of scandal and people coming forward to both of these women. They did nothing.
Angelica McDaniel and Jill Farren Phelps are the people fans should feel outrage toward. Two of the most powerful women at CBS didn’t bother to do their basic job; to protect the cast. That includes the accuser, who was outed as well as the alleged victim to McDaniel’s husband’s employer TMZ. These two women should be released from their duties. Frankly, these two divas are no different than the Bishops and Cardinals in the Catholic Church, who take the opinion, “boys will be boys,” and did absolutely nothing. When Highlight Hollywood spoke with our FAB FOUR on Tuesday, they were all appalled and outraged. Bloom and Allred had cases today, and could only give a short statement, but both are not only mortified by this CBS situation, but willing to talk to the alleged victim, if she needs legal counsel. Trust me, this young lady was not and will not be protected by the two women at CBS; Farren-Phelps or McDaniel. And frankly, both Muhney and the alleged victim should seek recourse against CBS for various infractions and mishandling.
A CBS insider tells us, “Angelica McDaniel has no credibility. She’s acted like a fan since she arrived here, and Farren-Phelps acts like a spurned wife, she never wants to hear one word against any of the men on the show, and maybe because Hunter was 19, not 12, she didn’t take it seriously.” The insider also confirmed that neither of these executives ever went to the authorities, which by California State Law, they were required to do so, when they hear of any hostile work environment. The insider also says, that CBS studio chief Les Moonves was never aware of this situation as it was unfolding, and this was kept from him. Since he’s aware now, he should take action against both of these women immediately, or the network’s reputation will be forever damaged. And cooperate with authorities to have a full-investigation.
Anne Bremner, who advocated for the family of Susan Cox Powell, the murdered Utah mother, whose body has yet to be found, and whose husband killed their two young sons, and who has represented family and supporters of American college student Amanda Knox was sickened by this vile treatment this young lady received by her supervisors, Jill Farren Phelps and Angelica McDaniel. Bremner tells Highlight Hollywood, “Thankfully, she does still have legal recourse. After satisfying administrative filing requirements she can file state and or federal claims for violations of the laws against discrimination. Sexual harassment is a form of discrimination and she can claim, in part, a hostile work environment and retaliation, again in part, because she was outed and subjected to scorn and ridicule. As could have been reasonably anticipated. She also arguably suffered an adverse change in her employment. Adding, “She can also go to the police as assault and battery is a CRIME.”
“No one has a duty to report to the police in these cases ( unlike in certain situations involving child abuse), but Tommy you and I can sure agree that it feels like it should be downright criminal to not protect victims no matter their age. And common sense and decency dictate that employees should be protected and reporting should occur when there is a crime. That’s common sense I think we agree,” said Anne Bremner. Yes, I full-heartedly concur. The fact that this cover-up was attempted and as anything Farren-Phelps does, eventually botched, like all the previous shows she destroyed, things should have been done to protect the integrity of the investigation. I have heard fans say that there are no witnesses to these alleged incidents. Again, misinformation people are putting out there, and thanks to these two women at CBS, there will always be doubt in the minds of others, simply because they hate a favorite character to be off the show. It’s much bigger than this. This is not 1960s “Mad Men.” This is real life. Families are being affected by this, and the alleged bullying the alleged victim is enduring online from vicious Twitter-thugs is probably worse than anything she may have endured on set.
“Anytime there is a credible report of harassment, the employer has a duty not only to investigate but also to protect the victim from further damage or harassment. And not to retaliate. As to the latter you know what they say (‘it’s not the crime it’s the cover up’). The investigation must be prompt. Be complete. Be fair. And be effective. It can’t be non existent, as is apparently the case here. And Tommy doesn’t that feel like it should be a crime?” Indeed Anne Bremner and I agree again. And the fact that McDaniel and Farren-Phelps were derelict in their duties many believe was done intentionally, so that they could always say, “we’re not sure what really happened.” But, they should be held accountable. These are not factory workers or waitresses, both have been in this industry for years, and Farren Phelps’s reign of terror is well-documented and long. So, she knows the laws, the morality of the right thing to do by people. Even Michael Muhney’s integrity has been affected because they chose to ignore and look away, while McDaniel is on Twitter trying to pretend to be a celebrity, tweeting on Monday, that her silence has been because she’s had the flu since Saturday. Really? You think Michael Muhney’s family had a lovely Christmas after you and Jill fired him days before Christmas? Do you think the alleged victim feels like she had the flu, when she claims she was uncomfortable working on the set of “The Young and the Restless”? Then came to you for help, and you pat her on the head and shirked your duties? These vile women should be out the door at CBS TV City. “You have called this “vile “.it is. There are only victims. There are no victors,”
Anne Bremner suggested during our morning interview. Concluding, “How can we have come this far to step so quickly backward. Is this a case of (the more things change the more they stay the same???) Bless you for your dogged investigative work for the underdog. If our system can’t protect our most vulnerable, who can we protect? Remember what Thomas Jefferson said about the media (as watchdogs)? ” Were it left to me to choose whether to have government without newspapers or newspapers without government I would not hesitate to choose the latter.” Tommy, victims everywhere need YOU. Bless you for ALL that you do! The champion of victims; YOU!”
Highlight Hollywood posed the same questions to Fox News legal analyst Lis Wiehl, who is also a bestselling author, who Highlight Hollywood has named as the Best Author of 2012. I’ve known Lis as well as Anne and the other ladies of the Legal FAB FOUR for years, and Lis Wiehl has a unique insight into this type of case, as she’s a former federal prosecutor as well. When asked does the alleged victim have any legal recourse despite how CBS honchos Jill Farren Phelps and Angelica McDaniel possibly intentionally handled the lack of an investigation? “It would seem so. The sexual harassment statute of limitations in California is that a victim must file a charge of discrimination with the Dept. of Fair Employment Housing within one year of the harassing conduct.”
What was so outrageous about these accusations is that both Farren Phelp, the show’s executive producer and McDaniel, CBS Daytime President did absolutely nothing when it was reported to them that a young woman was feeling threatened, bullied and harassed by an adult male on the set of the show. An investigation not cover up would have either confirmed or cleared the person of the accusations, and the fact that two female executives didn’t do the proper thing is not only outrageous, but I asked Lis if not just morally, did they have a legal or ethical obligation to report to Screen Actors Guild and/or the Los Angeles Police Dept? Wiehl said, Certain actions are certainly required, like an investigation, Tommy. And there is a high likelihood of holding the employer liable for harassment in California. But it does not look like the employer is required to report the harassment to the Screen Actors Guild or LAPD.”
So, it seems Farren-Phelps and McDaniel chose to do as least as they were required to do.
Wiehl however did add what potential legal recourse the alleged victim can take. “Sexual harassment claims against Muhney, and possibly against CBS. If the Dept. of Fair Employment and Housing find evidence of sexual harassment, and settlement efforts fail, the Department may file a formal accusation against the employer and harasser,” Wiehl added. So, both parties really should seek legal advice, because it’s obvious by Farren-Phelps and McDaniels inaction, or lack of action, they did open CBS to some liability. When asked if it’s common place today to expose the alleged victim, which Highlight Hollywood’s investigation shows at least McDaniel was a part of. Wiehl added, “I sincerely doubt it. I doubt that many employers want it known that harassment is taking place at their company.”
California based attorneys are available. Including two of the Highlight Hollywood’s FAB FOUR. Though Lisa Bloom and Gloria Allred were unavailable to speak at length, but both are regular contributors to our discussions at Highlight Hollywood. Allred did flatly state, “I will say that if the 19 year old had contacted me, the result might have been different for her,” said famed attorney Gloria Allred.
Lisa Bloom also felt the same way. Even adding, “Tommy, good for you for standing up to her. She needs an attorney. Does she have one? This is outrageous. Please have her call me if she needs counsel.”
My advice and offer to the alleged victim, is to contact my office and I’ll give you Lisa Bloom’s private cell number, so you can seek legal recourse, since the two much older and powerful women at CBS chose not to help you, not to do any more than they absolutely had to do. And your exposure by TMZ and the character assassination by some fans, not all, and not most, but many, can actually be actionable. Protect your rights. And protect the rights of other young women who may be victims.
Michael Muhney has denied all allegations against him, and even added on Twitter on Monday, “Benjamin Franklin said it best, “Believe none of what you hear and half of what you see.” On Tuesday, he said, “…and that quote doesn’t only apply to what is being said about ME. It also applies to others. Please be kind to everyone.
Perhaps he’s advising those who are being absolutely vicious to his accuser. Please people, be aware of your words, to even famous people. Your energies should be solidly behind getting Jill Farren Phelps and Angelica McDaniel to be released from their duties at CBS Television. If they failed at the very basic things, and are to this moment silent about what actions they did not take. And why. No fan should be attacking the alleged victim. You should focus your energies on making sure that any alleged victim has a right to complain, and women in power should be forced to take investigative measures and not just hide it for six months, then throw everyone out to TMZ, which McDaniel’s husband works for. Protecting victims is not rocket science. And unfairness in throwing accusations out when you fire someone, without having properly investigated and handled your duties is reckless.
Hopefully these two women will be held to the standard of Shame on You-Award-winners in 2014. And beyond!
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Written By: Tommy Lightfoot Garrett
Photographs are Courtesy: Y&R cast/CBS, Anne Bremner/file, Lis Wiehl/Kevin Widder, Gloria Allred and Lisa Bloom/file
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