Thomas Gibson (R) and Chuck Lorre at the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Hall of Fame ceremony on March 1, 2012. The actor played Aaron Hotchner on "Criminal Minds." File photo by Jonathan Alcorn/UPI | License Photo
LOS ANGELES, Nov. 17 (UPI) -- Criminal Minds revealed the fate of former star Thomas Gibson's character this week.
The CBS series explained Aaron Hotchner's absence on Wednesday's episode after Gibson was fired from the police procedural over the summer.
David Rossi (Joe Mantegna, Jr.) told the unit that Hotchner entered the witness protection program after serial killer Peter Lewis (Bodhi Elfman), aka Mr. Scratch, started stalking his son Jack. Hotchner was previously said to be away on assignment.
"He's okay, but he has not been away on special assignment," Rossi said. "That's something we had to say as a cover for the investigation."
"Peter Lewis is not going to stop, which is why Hotch and Jack have entered the program," he added.
Gibson was formally let go from Criminal Minds in August after initially being suspended for kicking writer Virgil Williams. He later said in the Oct. 10 issue of People that the kick wasn't intentional.
"We were shooting a scene late one night when I went to Virgil and told him there was a line that I thought contradicted an earlier line," the star recalled. "He said, 'Sorry, it's necessary and I absolutely have to have it.'"
"He [later] came into [the room] and started coming towards me. As he brushed past me, my foot came up and tapped him on the leg," he claimed. "If I hadn't moved, he would have run into me. We had some choice words, for which I apologized the next day."
Gibson starred on Criminal Minds for 11 seasons and appeared in the first two episodes of Season 12. Former star Paget Brewster has since returned to play Emily Prentiss as a series regular.