‘Law & Order: SVU’ Showrunner David Graziano Accused of Bullying & Misogyny

David Graziano attends the ViacomCBS Winter TCA Tour
Tommaso Boddi/Getty Images for Viacom

David Graziano, the current showrunner of the long-running Dick Wolf crime-drama Law & Order: SVU, has been accused of workplace misconduct, including bullying, volatile behavior, and misogyny.

A Los Angeles Times report published on Thursday, December 8, states that more than a dozen people who have worked with Graziano over the years have accused him of mistreatment in the workplace. The claims include making inappropriate and demeaning comments toward women and people of color, as well as angry outbursts and disrespect towards subordinate staffers.

Graziano was named Law & Order: SVU showrunner back in June, ahead of the popular NBC drama’s 24th season. But controversy soon followed. Not long after Graziano accepted the role, the show’s script coordinator, Haley Cameron, exited the series.

According to The Times report, claims against Graziano began appearing on an industry listserv after an advertisement for the script coordinator position was posted.

“The new showrunner, David Graziano, is a very unprofessional, ego-centric, and immature man. I have been in this industry a long time, and I have never experienced such pure, white-male misogyny,” wrote Cameron on the listserv. “I urge you — especially women — to think twice before putting yourself in a position that could end as badly as mine did.”

Amy Hartman, who worked as a script coordinator under Graziano on the crime drama Coyote, reportedly commented on the same listserv, “Graz is super toxic and I’ve never run from a job so fast in my life as I did when I SC’ed for him. Stay away.”

“Every day I was in fight or flight,” Hartman told The Times about working under Graziano. “I was completely floored that he was working again and working on that show.”

David James, who also worked on Coyote as a script coordinator, told The Times it was “easily the worst job I’ve had in Hollywood,” adding, “I thought after this show, no one would give [Graziano] another show to run.”

In a statement, Graziano admitted to being “a difficult person to work” with during the production of Coyote, noting that he was in pain at the time after suffering three collapsed discs in his neck. But he denied making inappropriate comments about women or people of color, explaining that any remarks he made on such topics were always in the context of creating stories for the show.

“Though it would be easy and convenient, I refuse to blame some past behavior on the abuse I suffered as a child at the hands of a Catholic priest, as well as at home,” Graziano said in his statement. “Anyone who has worked in a writers’ room will know it is a matter of course to draw upon and use your own experience for the good of the show.”

He continued, “Unfortunately, I have a lot to draw from — and with it comes a great deal of emotion, pain and deeply felt personal history. All any of us can do is evolve and grow. Real change is hard, and I continue to work on myself daily.”

Law & Order: SVU, Winter Premiere, Thursday, January 5, 9/8c, NBC