According to the New York Times, Jay Asher, author of the book and now hugely successful albeit controversial Netflix series, 13 Reasons Why, has filed a defamation lawsuit against the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI), as he claims there was little or no investigation into allegagtions made against him during the #MeToo movement, which resulted SCBWI annoucing that Asher “had violated the professional organization’s anti-harassment policy. “Asher is seeking a jury trial and unspecified financial damages” from the the Society.
The allegations made against Asher date back to April 2017, when executive director of SCBWI, Lin Oliver, was contacted by seven women who claimed that “Asher had used the group’s conferences to prey on women sexually, then threatened them to intimidate them into silence, making them ‘feel unsafe to attend SCBWI events.'”
Asher has stated that the women were colleagues of his, and that while he had conducted extramarital affairs with them, these were consensual, apart from his relationship with one woman, who, he claims, coerced him into sex and proceeded to engage in harassing him relentlessly over. the subsequent decade.
The New York Times notes that the lawsuit asserts that Oliver “made false and defamatory statements about him that torpedoed his career, and caused financial harm and intentional emotional distress,” and goes on to list the effects that SCBWI’s actions have had on Asher and his career, saying his “literary agency dropped him, speaking engagements and book signings evaporated, and some bookstores removed his novels from their shelves.”
Asher also claims that Oliver ignored contrary evidence due to personal grievances relating to Asher’s success and that one woman had even admitted her accusations to be false.
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