“By 2022, many people in management were aware of Gonzales’s egregious conduct and what he did to Plaintiff,” alleges a sexual assault suit filed yesterday by a current Disney employee against the Mouse House, its ex-VP Distribution Nolan Gonzales and various former Fox assets. “Plaintiff overheard a chairperson at Disney say that Gonzales was a pervert and that other women at the company felt the same way,” the jury trial seeking complaint bluntly adds.
“Even though individuals in management were aware of Gonzales’s conduct, they concealed their knowledge from human resources.”
The sexual assault, sexual battery, retaliation and seven other claims suit was filed on January 2 in LA Superior Court by a Jane Doe who is a near decade long staffer at Fox and now Disney. Detailing lurid alleged conduct by former executive Gonzales, the complaint spawns the one-time “supervisory level” employees almost entire duration at the now merged companies from 2014 onwards.
A timespan that reads like a fast decent into corporate Hell.
“Plaintiff was not Gonzales’s first victim nor his last,” states the filing under California’s Sexual Abuse and Cover Up Accountability Act, which permits civil lawsuits on claims that otherwise would be time-barred by the statute of limitations.
Getting explicit at times, the suit (read the sexual assault suit against Disney and Gonzales here) lists nights, days and years of “aggressive” touching from almost the start of her time at Fox as an executive assistant. Things quickly escalated to Gonzales allegedly forcing Jane Doe into “ingesting illicit drugs and encouraged Plaintiff to consume excessive amounts of alcohol so that he could sexually abuse her with limited resistance or questioning,” the 21-page complaint says, offering up a culture at Fox and then Disney where the bottom line was worth any cost and any damage.
“Many employees, including those in management, were aware of his sexually harassing behaviors to women within the company and to others in the industry,” Jane Doe’s suit from the Wilshiore Blvd-based Law Form Of Lien M. Nguyen declares. “In 2016, Plaintiff was warned by the coordinator prior to the annual conference in Las Vegas to watch out for Gonzales. The coordinator warned her by saying, ‘I can feel it’s going to be you this year,'” the multi-damages seeking complaint asserts
“Management was incentivized to hide Gonzales’s harassment because he generated valuable revenue as the Director of Distribution,” it goes on to say of when Gonzales would have been in the Distribution role for the then Fox Searchlight Pictures. “Management did not escalate concerns to human resources and created an environment in which Gonzales was free to harass women with impunity. Women were discouraged to come forward about his behaviors because management seemingly accepted Gonzales conduct as being part of the entertainment industry and his firing would hurt the company financially.”
It doesn’t sound like there were too many consequences for Gonzales when his alleged misconduct became impossible to ignore. “Gonzales made lascivious comments to other women at a conference in 2022, which was reported to management,” the filing claims. “On information and belief, at least three other women came forward to report Gonzales for sexual harassment.” Still, Gonzales exited Disney, or “retired” according to the complaint, in November 2022 with apparently not even a slap on the wrist.
On the other hand, a traumatized Jane Doe “took a medical leave of absence on December 7, 2022, which ended on January 31, 2023.” She returned to find herself soon suffering a self-described “demotion” due to the April 2023 “rolling layoffs in numerous departments” that followed Bob Iger’s return as CEO at end of 2022. A supposed cold shoulder from Disney HR over a private office request due to “her medical conditions and diagnosis” seems to have been the straw that broke her reluctance to push back.
Like sexual assault suits filed by Paula Abdul and others against So You Think You Can Dance co-creator Nigel Lythgoe, or complaints against rapper T.I. and spouse Tiny and many others in recent days, Jane Doe’s appeal to the courts has been facilitated by the Golden State’s Sexual Abuse and Cover Up Accountability Act. However, like several of those similar suits, Jane Doe filed after the December 31, 2023 expiration of the act.
Still, unlike some of those other case, she may not be time-barred. For one thing the law does give plaintiffs until December 31, 2026, to “revive claims seeking to recover damages suffered as a result of a sexual assault that occurred on or after January 1, 2009, that would otherwise be barred solely because the statute of limitations has or had expired.”
Additionally, Jane Doe and her attorneys make another practical point for consideration.
“December 31, 2023, was a Sunday and January 1, 2024, was a Court holiday, thereby extending the deadline to file claims made pursuant to Code of Civil Procedure section 340.16(e) to January 2, 2024.”
Neither Disney nor Gonzales responded to request for comment on Jane Does claims. If and when they do, this post will be updated.