'13 Reasons Why' Author Says He's The Victim After Sexual Harassment Allegations Come To Light
UPDATE (2/14/18, 3:45 p.m. EST): In a statement to MTV News, a spokesperson for author Jay Asher denied the allegations, adding that there was "no investigation or finding of sexual harassment" and that the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators' claims were "completely false."
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.
Jay Asher, the author of the popular young-adult novel Thirteen Reasons Why, now a Netflix sensation, has been expelled from the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators following allegations of sexual harassment, the writing organization has confirmed. Buzzfeed News reports that the decision was made last year after the SCBWI launched an investigation into multiple anonymous allegations against the author.
However, according to Asher, he resigned on his own accord, telling Buzzfeed News that he felt like he had been "thrown under the bus" by the literary organization.
"It's very scary when you know people are just not going to believe you once you open your mouth," he said. "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."
Asher is of course referring to the #MeToo movement, which has been responsible for exposing the deep-seated history of sexual misconduct in Hollywood, media, tech, and now publishing.
As for his accusers, Asher said, "The truth is that I had been harassed by these people for close to 10 years. And I just could not deal with it anymore."
The news follows the publication of an article in the School Library Journal last month, in which allegations of misconduct against illustrator David Díaz and Penguin Workshop executive art director Giuseppe Castellano had been openly addressed. Anonymous commenters called out Asher's misconduct in the comments section, as well as that of several other prominent YA authors. One claims that she tried to warn other women about Asher through the publishing "whisper network."
Asher was not actively involved in the 13 Reasons Why series, which is produced by Selena Gomez. Though, the popularity of the series gave Asher's debut novel a major boost a decade after its original publication. Thirteen Reasons Why follows the tragic story of 17-year-old Hannah Baker as she details the reasons that led to her suicide through a series of 13 cassette tapes.
A second season is set to hit the streaming service later this year.