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2024 is set to be a big year for The Walt Disney Company, with a lot on the line. Not only does Disney have to rebound from a dismal year at the box office, but they also have to focus on making Disney+ profitable. In addition to that, the year is starting off with a huge fight over control of Disney’s Board of Directors. Billionaire activist investor Nelson Peltz is attempting what many consider to be a hostile takeover, but Iger and his supporters are fighting back.
And now, Disney has to address some serious sexual assault allegations made in a new lawsuit.
The plaintiff in the lawsuit — only identified as Jane Doe — has accused Disney of covering up a series of sexual assaults committed by former Disney executive, Nolan Gonzales. Gonzales was Disney’s former Vice President of Distribution from 2019 through November 2022. The plaintiff claims that Disney did nothing about the sexual assaults because Gonzales, “generated valuable revenue.”
During the time he was with Disney, Jane Doe said that Gonzales sexually assaulted multiple women. He allegedly did so by using illegal drugs like ecstasy and Rohypnol — known primarily as a date rape drug. Jane Doe even claims that she heard an unnamed Disney Chairperson refer to Gonzales as “a pervert.”
The plaintiff, suing as a Jane Doe, alleges that Gonzales assaulted her several times in 2017 through the use of ecstasy and a date rape drug, raping her when she was incapacitated. He also “used his position of power and blackmail” to force her to have sex with him, according to the complaint. When she tried to cut contact with him in 2018, Gonzales allegedly threatened to release intimate videos of their encounters and “ruin her career.”
“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,” states the complaint.
The complaint states that, in 2022, when Gonzales stepped down from his position at Disney, it was because three women had accused him of sexually assaulting them. Jane Doe further claims that she was demoted after her accusations, claiming that Disney did it because they wanted to retaliate against her. She said that she had to take time off from work because of the depression she experienced from the assault and subsequent investigation. Disney allegedly used that against her.
Jane Doe has accused Disney of using the layoffs — initiated by CEO Bob Iger in the early months of 2023 — as an excuse:
“Disney used the rolling layoffs as an excuse to demote Plaintiff and to place her on a different team where she did not manage any direct reports,” the suit states. “Previously, Plaintiff was a supervisory level employee who trained and directed three subordinates. Now, Plaintiff’s essential job duties are much smaller in scope and are similar to duties she performed at Disney ten years ago.”
In addition to Disney, the suit also names 20th Century Fox and Searchlight for knowing about the allegations and covering them up. Jane Doe has brought a number of claims, including sexual harassment, sexual assault, sexual battery, and negligence.
It should be noted that Gonzales left The Walt Disney Company around the same time that Bob Iger was reinstated as Disney CEO. Prior to that, Bob Chapek had been in charge. However, some of the alleged sexual assaults did take place during Iger’s previous CEO tenure.
This is not the only lawsuit Disney is facing from women who work at or used to work at the company. Last month, a judge certified a class-action lawsuit brought against Disney by more than 9,000 employees. The employees claim that Disney has actively discriminated against female employees by paying them less than their male counterparts.
What do you think of the woman’s allegations? Let us know in the comments.