Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

The Scandal On Criminal Minds You Didn't Know About

Fans of the hit CBS crime procedural "Criminal Minds" came to love the show not only for its tales of creepy killers caught just in the nick of time but also for its cast, who played well opposite each other both onscreen and off. Kirsten Vangsness and Shemar Moore had a tight bond that extended past their on-screen chemistry, while Matthew Gray Gubler introduced Paget Brewster to her future husband, Steve Damstra, and even officiated their wedding.

Unfortunately, not all the behind-the-scenes interactions on the "Criminal Minds" set were positive, and the show was not without its scandals. A culture of sexism on the set resulted in the 2010 firings of Paget Brewster and AJ Cook in order to bring in "new women" (although the two actresses eventually secured their returns to the show, to fans' delight). And in 2016, Thomas Gibson was abruptly fired from the show after he allegedly kicked a producer, which wasn't even his first violent outburst on set.

Sexual harassment was also an ongoing issue that "Criminal Minds" crew members faced, resulting in multiple legal complaints against both the individual perpetrators and the production studios involved in the making of the show. The hostile workplace culture flew under the radar for over a decade, until a staffer filed a complaint with the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing in 2018. From there, the story of how toxic the set of "Criminal Minds" was publicly unfolded.

The 2018 complaint led to more scrutiny of the Criminal Minds set

In April 2018, a former digital imaging technician for "Criminal Minds," Tony Matulic, filed a complaint against ABC, which co-produced the series, and Entertainment Partners, the company that processed payroll for the show's crew, with the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing, alleging that he was fired from the show after speaking out about the behavior of Greg St. Johns, the show's director of photography, who, he says, repeatedly grabbed his rear end (via Variety).

Greg St. Johns would go on to be named over and over again in Variety's interviews with 19 current or former "Criminal Minds" crew members, conducted following the filing of Matulic's complaint. In October 2018, Variety released an exclusive report, detailing St. Johns' repeated groping of male staffers' bodies; a pattern of verbal abuse toward staffers; and backing from the Human Resources department and other executives who facilitated the firings of crew members who spoke out about the abuse St. Johns inflicted.

Following the Variety report, in July 2019, a former 2nd assistant cameraman, Todd Durboraw, filed a complaint of his own, suing St. Johns, as well as ABC, CBS, Entertainment Partners, and Warner Bros. (although this company is uninvolved in the production of "Criminal Minds") for sexual harassment, assault, battery, and retaliation, citing offenses remarkably similar to those listed in the Matulic complaint (via The Hollywood Reporter).

One complaint quickly became two and grew into a class-action lawsuit

From these formal complaints, the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing filed a class-action lawsuit in May 2020 against CBS, ABC, and Disney, as well as Greg St. Johns, for the hostile work environment that resulted from the pattern of sexual harassment and retaliation on the "Criminal Minds" set (via The Hollywood Reporter). And this lawsuit has since been greenlit: In March 2021, Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Daniel Buckley denied Disney's demurrer objecting to the class-action nature of the lawsuit, ruling that the suit could move forward (via Courthouse News Service).

The result of the lawsuit remains to be seen, but it looks like the CA Department of Fair Employment and Housing is committed to uncovering the true depth of the toxicity on the "Criminal Minds" set. Assistant Chief Counsel Sue Noh of the CA DFEH said that, although it's unclear the exact size of the class being covered by the lawsuit, "at this stage, it's not an HR department limited to 'Criminal Minds' alone that we're looking into" (via Courthouse News Service). The CA DFEH suit could uncover that the alleged inappropriate behavior of St. Johns was just the tip of the iceberg.

If you or anyone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, help is available. Visit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network website or contact RAINN's National Helpline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).