Even amid the #MeToo movement, sexual misconduct allegations are too often kept under wraps. Such was the case when Jay Asher, the author of the novel 13 Reasons Why, which the Netflix show is based on, was accused of sexual harassment last year. While allegations were brought against him anonymously, leading to an investigation by the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (to which Asher belonged), it wasn't until yesterday that they surfaced. The Associated Press revealed on Monday that Asher had been expelled from the organization, following their investigation.
"Both Jay Asher and [illustrator] David Diaz were found to have violated the SCBWI code of conduct in regard to harassment," Lin Oliver, executive director of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators, told AP News via email, without giving the specifics that led to Asher's dismissal. "Claims against them were investigated and, as a result, they are no longer members and neither will be appearing at any SCBWI events in the future."
Now Asher has responded, and he says he is the one who is a victim of harassment. “The truth is that I had been harassed by these people for close to 10 years,” Asher told Buzzfeed, referencing his anonymous accusers. “And I just could not deal with it anymore.” Asher, who claims that he left the organization on his own, also said the organization told him “the emails showed nothing”—referencing the complaints—and that he was “thrown under the bus.”
“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.”
Netflix and 13 Reasons Why executive producer Selena Gomez have yet to issue a formal statement.
Asher is the latest figure in Hollywood to deny sexual misconduct allegations, following, perhaps most famously, James Franco. The Deuce actor was accused of sexual misconduct by five women last month in a Los Angeles Times article. He dismissed the claims, telling Stephen Colbert, according to The New York Times, “The things that I heard that were on Twitter are not accurate, but I completely support people coming out and being able to have a voice.”