’13 Reasons Why’ author responds to sexual harassment allegations—UPDATED
[Photo by: Netflix]
UPDATE: Feb. 14, 3:34 P.M.
Jay Asher's spokesperson, Tamara Taylor, has shared a statement explaining that there was no allegation, investigation or finding of harassment against Asher, contradicting Lin Oliver of the SCBWI's initial statement.
Read Asher's statement in full below:
The SCBWI's recent statement about author Jay Asher is completely false. There was no allegation, investigation or finding of sexual harassment.
In April 2017, Mr. Asher voluntarily agreed that he would no longer attend SCBWI conferences. This was in response to hurt feelings of a group of authors with whom he had consensual relationships that ended poorly.
Mr. Asher was not banned by the SCBWI. In fact, when he let his membership in the group lapse last summer, Lin Oliver, the group's executive director, suggested that he keep his membership going. He did as requested, and Mr. Asher's membership is active today.
These women were not subordinates of Mr. Asher; they were his peers and they each entered into romantic relationships with him voluntarily, with some initially pursuing him.
Mr. Asher was married at the time of these relationships, as were many of the women. He is deeply sorry for the pain these consensual decisions caused his family, and others.
The false statements to the news media have resulted in inaccurate and hurtful news coverage, which is threatening Mr. Asher's livelihood. Mr. Asher has retained legal counsel and is demanding SCBWI and Lin Oliver promptly retract the false and defamatory statements they made.
ORIGINAL: Feb. 13, 2:08 P.M.
13 Reasons Why author Jay Asher has been expelled from the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators after the organization launched an investigation into multiple sexual harassment allegations against him, MTV reports.
Read more: ‘13 Reasons Why’ expected to tackle taboo topics in Season 2
Earlier this week, SCBWI told Buzzfeed that after an investigation, they felt that terminating his membership was the "proper course of action."
"After we investigated, we felt that terminating his membership was the proper course of action," SCBWI executive director Lin Oliver told BuzzFeed. "We have always been really sensitive to sexual harassment issues and have a zero tolerance policy, but clearly our policies haven’t prevented violations, so we’re taking this opportunity to take another look at our guidelines."
However, Asher tells BuzzFeed that he left on his own accord.
"It's very scary when you know people are just not going to believe you once you open your mouth," Asher told BuzzFeed. "I feel very conflicted about it just because of what's going on in the culture and who's supposed to be believed and who's not."
Oliver said Asher was expelled after the organization received anonymous complaints by email, but Asher feels as though he was "thrown under the bus" because he was told by the SCBWI that "the emails showed nothing."
He further explains that he had been "harassed by these people [SCBWI] for close to 10 years" and that his decision to leave came after Oliver said the emails "showed nothing."
"I understand the predicament they're in with everything going on and to want to protect themselves," Asher said. "I love the organization, but they didn't decide to push me out. It was my decision, even though [Oliver] said the email contained nothing that their organization should have anything to do with."
Of course, this is most unsettling considering Asher’s Thirteen Reasons Why tells the story of a character who kills herself after being sexually harassed and assaulted by her classmates.
"Every single industry in America, including children’s books, is made up of primarily excellent people with excellent values and exemplary moral codes," Oliver said. "But no industry is exempt from taking a look at themselves and seeing what they can do better."