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Supergirl star responds to executive producer's sexual harassment suspension

Scott Brown, Postmedia

Supergirl star Melissa Benoist. (Cliff Lipson/CBS)

Supergirl star Melissa Benoist. (Cliff Lipson/CBS)

Supergirl actress Melissa Benoist is calling for "safe, respectful and collaborative" work spaces amid allegations of sexual harassment on the Vancouver-filmed show.

Andrew Kreisberg, an executive producer on CW shows Supergirl Arrow, The Flash, and DC’s Legends of Tomorrow — all of which are filmed in whole or in part in British Columbia — was suspended Friday by Warner Bros. TV Group after 15 women and four men came forward with allegations of inappropriate touching and sexual harassment.

In a social media post Sunday, Benoist, who stars as Kara Danvers/Supergirl on the show, called the situation heartbreaking.

“I am a woman who leads a show that supports equality and feminism, empowerment, and fighting for what is right. I have always tried to conduct myself this way personally, as well. Sadly, the show and my career are part of an industry that doesn’t always mirror these sentiments," she wrote, without specifically mentioning Kreisberg.

“When people commit crimes or harass others they should always be held accountable — no matter what industry they work in or how much power they wield."

“So this week, I’ll head back to Supergirl even more committed to being a part of changing the norm by listening when people speak up, and refusing to accept an environment that is anything less than a safe, respectful and collaborative space,” she wrote.

The 19 accusers told Variety that Kreisberg established a pattern over the years that included inappropriate touching and sexual harassment.

“According to sources who either witnessed this behavior or were subjected to it, Kreisberg is accused of frequently touching people without their permission, asking for massages from uncomfortable female staff members, and kissing women without asking,” read the Variety report.

“Almost every source cites a constant stream of sexualized comments about women’s appearances, their clothes, and their perceived desirability.”

Kreisberg denied all the allegations, telling Variety: “I have made comments on women’s appearances and clothes in my capacity as an executive producer, but they were not sexualized. Like many people, I have given someone a non-sexual hug or kiss on the cheek.”

He denied the claims of sexualized touching or requests for massages.

But the women described the workplace as feeling “unsafe” and “toxic.”

Warner Bros. TV Group has launched an investigation into the claims against Kreisberg.

“We have recently been made aware of allegations of misconduct against Andrew Kreisberg,” the studio said in a prepared statement to Variety. “We have suspended Mr. Kreisberg and are conducting an internal investigation. We take all allegations of misconduct extremely seriously, and are committed to creating a safe working environment for our employees and everyone involved in our productions.”

Berlanti Productions, which oversees the CW shows, issued a statement signed by heads Greg Berlanti and Sarah Schechter stating, "We were recently made aware of some deeply troubling allegations regarding one of our showrunners. We have been encouraging and fully co-operating with the investigation into this by Warner Bros.

"There is nothing more important to us than the safety and well-being of our cast, crew, writers, producers and any staff. We do not tolerate harassment and are committed to doing everything we can to make an environment that’s safe to work in and safe to speak up about if it isn’t.”

Actress Emily Bett Rickards, who stars on Arrow, also condemned sexual harassment in a Twitter statement without specifically referencing the Kreisberg allegations.

"To the men who committed harassment, who perpetuated rape culture, who turn a blind eye and complain about reverse sexism: you are weak and complicit," she wrote. "To the women who found strength to speak up. To the women who supported one another and to the women finding their voice: You can. You are heroines."

sbrown@postmedia.com

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