A Convention Harassment Policy in Action

Arisia is a convention with a harassment policy. So what happened when a woman quite reasonably felt she was harassed, and complained to convention about it? Why, it was handled quickly and efficiently, of course, because there was a process in place to handle it, and that process was followed.

Read about the event here.

Shira Lipkin has further thoughts here.

Good on Arisia for being a convention where someone who felt they were being harassed knew how, and felt comfortable with, reporting the event.

138 Comments on “A Convention Harassment Policy in Action”

  1. To anyone who might attempt it: This is really not the right place to wring your hands about the dude being accused of harassment here. The woman in this case made a report, the convention followed it up, and chose its own course of action. Pretty open and shut.

  2. Nice to see an example of those policies working.
    I had to Google “ghosting the convention.” So I guess he snuck in when nobody was looking.

  3. It would be a lot more proper when people, after being told to fuck off, properly fuck off.

    And don’t touch people unless you get the “go-ahead” first.

  4. Knowing that this anti-harassment movement is being used with positive results makes me feel much safer about attending cons. The few times I have attended cons I have gone alone, which makes me feel vulnerable to begin with. This helps. Go Arisia! And any con that has a clear and enforceable policy that they will stand behind.

  5. Additional comments in both blogs point out that the guy reported did some additional sexual assault while at the con.

  6. At what point do these parties need to start self-policing and using one of them cheap breathalyzers? At the very least start bouncing the creeps.

    So sad that this guys does these things.
    So wonderful that the community is all over working on fixing this problem!

  7. John, thank you for your continued work as an advocate and ally. Your help is notable and appreciated.

    (I chaired Arisia in 2011 and am still chairing Readercon, so seriously: Thank you. The impact of your posts is nigh-tangible.)

  8. I simply don’t understand guys like this. I say this as an awkward/clueless guy who had to be told once (many years ago) to back off, but this is predatory. I hope he gets the message and gets help before this behavior escalates.

  9. As Stochast already pointed out, it seems like that wasn’t an isolated incident regarding this particular dude. If those comments are right, he has shown a pattern of this type of behavior. Which means that the con’s policy was much more effective than “merely” providing a safe space for the victim, but directly led to the exposure of a possible proto-rapist. Very well done. Very well done indeed.

  10. Peter Cibulskis, it is my belief[1] that at con parties there are a lot more drunk people than harassers. I wouldn’t even be surprised if there was a negative correlation between drinking and harassment, in that the predators would try to be less drunk than their prey.

    Or, in short, I fail to see how a breathalyzer would help.

    Bouncing the creeps would help, but you gotta know who the creeps are before you can bounce them. The actions by twistedpeach and Arisia are helping that this creep, at least, gets bounced in the future.

    [1] Unsubstantiated belief, because social anxiety issues keep me away from such parties.

  11. The “but he has Asperger’s!” bingo item has already shown up in another discussion of this. Sigh …

  12. John, thank you for your kind words. As a 35-year veteran of conventions, and a SMoF of 25 years, I assure you that I have seen (and experienced) all kinds of convention goers. However, I have very little patience for those who seem to exist only to make the lives of others miserable. I feel you are a guest at my party; as a host, it is my duty to see that everyone has a good time. While I am pretty tolerant–one has to be, in fandom–I will not condone predatory behavior, whether aimed at me or others. Not paying for the convention is preying on the con’s finances; making repeat unwanted physical advances is inexcusable; and repeat predatory behavior is not something where any sort of ‘talking to’ is going to work. If if takes a few years to weed out these people, so be it. Arisia does not ban people lightly, but we are quite willing to do so when the situation warrants it. I hope that the publicity this incident arouses serves as a warning to those who would prey on others, and makes those who have had incidents in the past feel safer at not just Arisia, but all conventions.

    It’s time for a new era. Thank you for supporting it.

  13. Good to know that the policy worked, to an extent. I say to an extent because (I imagine) it’s hard to apply a con harassment policy to someone who isn’t supposed to be there in the first place.

    Still, sounds like Arisia was on the ball. Kudos.

  14. Ben — the extent includes him being perma-banned from at least four other conventions, including two he used to volunteer with. It took only hours for other conrunners to hear about dozens of other incidents with the dude with dozens of other women — who’d never brought it up because they didn’t see the point, didn’t think anything would be done.

    Once Arisia brought the hammer down, other women learned that, for the first time in a long time, a hammer existed, and other cons decided that they ought to use one, too.

  15. @ben If a person doesn’t have a convention membership or a hotel room, they are a Hotel Security issue. Most hotels I’ve worked with are more than happy to escort such a person off the premises. In a similar case several years ago involving another individual and hotel, the hotel chose to (independently of Arisia) ban that individual from their hotel for repeated incidents.

  16. The one thing really missing in this equation is the lack of a method for insuring that the message about this individual (and similar types) is disseminated effectively throughout the convention community.

    Comments on both the linked to articles mention other events that the individual is associated with (on staff, etc) and that several conventions are being made aware of the incident – but how far will the informal network be able to go?

  17. I’m glad the policy worked so well, and that this proto-rapist won’t be bothering women at cons any more.

    See? It works.

  18. @noel: If I read the blog accounts correctly, he had no con membership but did have a hotel room; the point came up in one of the subsequent/supplemental incident reports.

    Which may actually raise a separate question. If he was ghosting the con but had a hotel room, one wonders whether he’d booked the room under the convention rate — and if so, whether he should be on the hook to the hotel for having obtained that rate under false pretenses.

  19. Jon Meltzer: Yeah, I’m sure my godson would just love that “excuse.” He’s a grown man who’s worked hard on his social skills and knows how to behave and how not to. I hope that argument was slapped down, if not by yourself, then by someone else.

  20. [Deleted because from the very first sentence this guy was a hostile putz. Pro tip: If you think you have something relevant to say, maybe being a condescending prick from the start is not the way to go – JS]

  21. I’m very glad to read that Boston area cons have been so good about having and implementing anti-harassment policies. I hope Anime Boston will join the crowd – speaking as the mother of a former attendee, it attracts a lot of youngsters, who are especially vulnerable.

  22. Fucker had a big black eye coming, but still productive resolution to a shitty character.

    @Peter Cibulskis

    At what point do these parties need to start self-policing and using one of them cheap breathalyzers?

    Plenty of people are capable of being inebriated without compulsively molesting others. If you think alcohol is the root of evil, the 1920’s would like a word with you.


    I hope he gets the message and gets help before this behavior escalates.

    Help or an early grave; I could live with either one. Not condoning violence. Just saying it wouldn’t be any great loss to humanity if this Dustin shit slipped in the shower.

  23. Let’s not wish death on people, please. Rather, let us hope it’s been a learning experience and that this fellow can correct his future behavior, far away from conventions.

  24. Blue-Jay said ‘And don’t touch people unless you get the “go-ahead” first.’
    To go off topic?

    [The rest deleted because willfully going off topic is generally frowned upon, and in this thread, on this topic, perhaps even more so. Let’s stick to the knitting at hand, folks – JS]

  25. @ FormerAkwardGuy – that’s one of the things about guys like this that’s really infuriating: they’ll use the “but I’m awkward!” excuse, when they’re in fact predatory douchebags who know exactly what they’re doing, and are counting on people’s sympathies (and cultural perceptions of women being overly-sensitive and overreactive). Guys who are awkward but well-intentioned back off, just like you did, when told that they’ve erred and made someone uncomfortable. Guys like the one who harassed twistpeach (and apparently other people), are being deliberate in their actions.

    Shadesong points out in her LJ that Hennessey had, at points, touched her in seemingly innocuous ways that were still pinging her radar, and in retrospect, were ways he was testing her boundaries. Given that, the incident that Laura47 mentions in both Shadesong & twistpeach’s LJ entries (which carries a TW for sexual assault), and the people speaking up in the comments over there, it’s likely that Hennessey has known exactly what he’s doing and hasn’t stopped because there haven’t been any major consequences. Hopefully that’s about to change. It’s possible that maybe all of this coming down will get it through to him that what he’s doing is unacceptable, but at the very least, the information is now being shared and there’s real impetus for the con he volunteers with to do something about it. Which has been made possible in major part by Arisia having a policy, making it clear that they’ll enforce it, and treating victims correctly, which in turn helped twistpeach to know that she *could* make a report and expect to be treated with respect by the con and community.

    And that’s what’s really going to help change con culture for the better – the more that cons demonstrate they’ll take reports and victims seriously, the more people will be comfortable enough to make reports and follow through, and eventually, hopefully, the less predators like Hennessey will be able to get away with it (much less be willing to try).

  26. Sorry for getting a bit darkside. I’m just losing patience with people like this lately. Sometimes it seems like the cultures that coddle them just enable their ongoing behavior. Yes, I’d rather he learn from it. Some lessons are best tough with a bit of tough love, IMHO.

  27. Thank you for this post :)

    I feel better about going to Arisia now, though my harasser (also longtime Arisia staff) never harrasses AT the con.

  28. @John C. Bunnell – he was probably sharing the room with someone who was a paid attendee. Room sharing is a common enough occurrence.

  29. I don’t regularly go to cons anymore, now that I’ve got a toddler and an infant, but Arisia has been my home con for close to twelve years, and I try to make it down on the Sunday. I’m happy that the harassment policy is working.

  30. A harassment policy is a good thing. A woman calling BS on horrific behavior is so much more valuable.

  31. Have to have a harassment policy that’s got one’s back before one can effectively call BS during the con, though. When you don’t know if you’re going to get more grief, it’s harder to stand up and say, “YO, HARASSMENT HERE.”

    (I semi-recently kicked someone out of an online hangout; it had been a case of The Female People Had Been Warning Each Other and no one wanted to rock the boat till I came back and decided that I would not be mansplained to in my own room. …I got applause from several people, and a certain amount of the guys there going, “we hadn’t really liked him anyway.” But no one wanted to rock the boat.

    What helped me do it? 1: I knew that the female contingent of the place weren’t happy about him, and 2: I have cultivated an alter-ego like a wolverine and a porcupine got snuggly together. And #1 was really important.)

  32. “knitting at hand.” Ok, got it.
    IIRC I went back on topic with stuff that I should have prefaced with things about trigger words.

  33. “A harassment policy is a good thing. A woman calling BS on horrific behavior is so much more valuable.”

    What A.Beth said – victims are more likely to call BS on horrific behavior when they know that the con & community back them up. Because what often happens is that you call BS on harassing behavior – and almost immediately get hit with a laundry list of “He didn’t mean it” “You’re over-reacting” etc. And it can be a really hard thing to do – either you speak up and have to deal with people telling you that you’re making a big deal out of nothing, or you keep quiet reporting, and then it’s your fault for being too scared. Neither prospect is a good one, and they happen to practically every victim who’s been in similar situations.

    Yes, it helps cons and events deal with problem attendees, especially serial ones, when victims speak up, but those voices are only more valuable when they’re taken seriously, and harassment policies that are enforced and implemented correctly are what contribute to that.

  34. I’d be willing to address Shawn T’s concerns, John. I wish you hadn’t deleted half of his response. Then again, this is you place, and I frequently resort to name-calling and profanity. It’s a failing of mine that I have no wish to correct.

  35. I really wish the moderator of the Arisia Fans Facebook community hadn’t arbitrarily decided to remove my link to twistpeach’s LJ post. By doing so, she also deleted the entire discussion that followed it.

  36. @FormerAkwardGuy

    I hope he gets the message and gets help before this behavior escalates.

    Sure, but, in the end, that’s not any convention’s responsibility and arguably well beyond their pay grade. (The chap in the specific case mentioned in the OP sounds like he needs long-term therapy and people around him who will set and enforce strict boundaries when it comes to his interactions with women.) Their primary and absolute responsibility is to have clear, enforced policies and processes in place to ensure the health, safety and pleasant entertainment of their paying guests.


    A harassment policy is a good thing. A woman calling BS on horrific behavior is so much more valuable.

    And the best thing of all is cons that actually take women (and people of colour and GLBTI and people with disabilities) calling BS on abuse and harassment seriously instead of telling them to go away, stop being so “oversensitive” and think about what they did to provoke their abuse in the first place.

    Yeah, I’ll call bullshit on any homophobic or racist smack thrown in my direction, and any con that doesn’t have my back is going to have me right up in their faces until they straighten up and fly right. But I can do that because I’m a middle-aged, articulate bloody-minded man with a very thick skin and all kinds of skills and support that I didn’t back in the day when I was a closeted teenager who’d crumple like wet toilet paper in a monsoon if anyone even looked at me sideways.

  37. Hi. If you’re at a Con in the greater New England area, look for Operation Hammond.


    We’re a bunch of guys like you who happen to also be EMT’s and Paramedics, as well as some other volunteers, who have banded together to provide EMS services for SciFi/Fantasy/Gaming conventions. We only do those sort of shows, you won’t see our group working a car show the next week, for example. We’re geeks/nerds/gamers/etc. just like you.

    Most of the time, we hand out bandaids. Sometimes we actually have to go to work.

    We have worked Arisia, AnimeBoston, and CTCon, among others, in the New England area.

    You can recognize us by our white uniform shirts, usually, although policies at Arisia had us wearing green t-shirts. We have radios and a direct connection to Con Security and Hotel Security, and we’re not afraid to use them. We consider social problems like this part of our scope, and we will step up to assist if we can identify a situation where we can do so.

    We’d also be willing to escort someone to their car or to their hotel room, or get Con Security to help with this.

    For the record, I was one of the guys who responded to the report of the gate-jumpers. There were three of us [Operation Hammond] there, as well as two Con Security and two hotel security. I was more concerned with TwistPeach’s boyfriend, but when she started telling me her story, I was willing to go to hotel security and get going on the problem.

    I’d like to spend a con doing nothing, but until then, we’ll be on patrol. Stop by, say hello, introduce yourselves to us. We’d like to meet you.

    James Rosse, NYS EMT-B
    Secretary, Supervisor & Dispatcher
    Operation Hammond

  38. It’s nice to see that things worked the way they were supposed to. The convention had a policy, the woman felt empowered and safe enough to report the situation. I’m sorry she ran into this guy, but so glad a system was in place to help her.

  39. @stochast: A roomshare situation is certainly possible; the information in the relevant comment is ambiguous on that point. I suggest, though, that it would be worth the concom’s effort to check on and confirm that point. It would be relevant to know in whose name the room was booked and paid for. If the room was in the offender’s name, that’s one thing. If it was in someone else’s name, that someone else should be made formally aware that their actions essentially helped to enable the occurrence of the inappropriate incidents which took place at the con.

  40. @GeekMelange: “it’s likely that Hennessey has known exactly what he’s doing and hasn’t stopped because there haven’t been any major consequences. ” I can confirm that he is being kicked out of a lot of places he frequents. I don’t know how it will all shake out, but I’ve been keeping up on it (and pushing a lot of it) and he may be unwelcome at every con and LARP in the Boston area that he was part of. (And he did drop one before they had a chance to ban him). I have overall been very pleased with the reactions of every person I actually know — the only problem people have been a couple people in an Arisia fan community on facebook, with the same old victim blaming and cries of how fake accusations ruin lives and I want to vomit because I was there for the tears the next morning. Except for those few people, the community has been wonderful, and I really feel like things are *so* much better in our community than they were just a few years ago. It turns out writing blog posts and educating your friends DOES make an actual real difference in people’s lives! As pissed off as I am that this happened, I am intensely grateful for the responses I’ve seen. So thank you everyone who fights the good fight, and thank you Mr. Scalzi for all your posts that have helped fight that fight.

  41. Good on Twistpeach for making a stand, and a “Bravo!” to Arisia for having the people and know-how to support an environment that protects its attendees.

  42. Very nice. Good on the convention, good on the policy, good on the system.

    Really, that’s all that needs to be said. ;)

  43. I think it should be pointed out that it’s not just having a harassment policy in place, it’s also having staff and volunteers properly trained in handling harassment complaints. I’d even argue that having a policy without proper training can be even worse than not having one at all, in some ways. It would give a false sense of security to attendees that, when something happens, would not be enforced properly.

    I hope more cons adopt the practice of asking their local Rape Crisis Center for training and practical exercises.

  44. Laura47 – Every time I get responses where I’ve shared this story in which people express surprise at Hennessey’s actions (and it’s almost always well-meaning guys), I try to remind them that for a lot of us, what’s surprising about this isn’t Hennessey’s actions, it’s the reactions of support and proactiveness of the community and con that’s truly surprising (and in a good way!). Because for a lot of us, Hennessey and those like him are why going to cons (much less participating in geek spaces) has been like playing a game of Hot Lava – if you step in it, it’s your fault, you get burned, and eventually you’re not all that keen to play anymore.

    It’s been so amazing to see how the status quo is slowly but surely changing, thanks to cons like Arisia actually doing harassment policies & enforcement right so that people like Twistpeach can speak up and know they’ll be ok doing so. I’m so sorry for what happened to your friend, and I hope she’ll be ok. And I’m sorry you’re still having to push back against that sort of ignorance elsewhere, even if it’s less loud than the support, it’s still infuriating. Thank you for continuing to push this. I have a lot of friends who go to Arisia (and I’ve been wanting to go for years, it’s just that travel can get expensive) as well as other cons, and I want them to be safe, too.

    Hennessey’s name is being passed around the Chicago-area cons as well as this story’s being shared – there are a lot of good people trying to do the hard work out here, too, and we don’t want our corner of the pond fouled either. I’m glad to see that other Boston-area communities are dealing with this as well.

    James Rosse – I had vaguely heard of Operation Hammond before, sounds like a great idea. I’ll pass the website info along to some of the concoms here that I know in case they’re unaware – having a similar group here would be great (I’m currently unaware of any similar organizations in the Midwest).

  45. John, thanks for calling this out. Arisia was my first convention and I’ve attended for the past 16 years (since I was in middle school). My parents allowed me to attend specifically because the con has a harassment policy and clearly identifiable individuals to whom you could report incidents. I’ve reported a couple of people in the past for unwanted touching or threatening verbal behavior, and the con staff always, without exception, treated the incident as serious, helped me calm down, and dealt firmly and emphatically with the harasser.

  46. I left this comment on one of the LJ threads responding to why FB stuff was taken down, likely, from the official Arisia page. While IANAL, I am an online privacy maven of sorts, in some folks’ eyes:

    Not that we haven’t been through this before, but publishing a person’s personally identifying information such as his employment and such and accusing him of defamatory behavior that hasn’t been prosecuted opens one up to civil damages, little vigilantes. Your cause is just, but your mob psychology could run you into hot water. Even if this would all hold up in court, you could be made very unhappy for months or years.

  47. Shava:

    “Little vigilantes” sounds a lot like condescension, Shava, and when you’re trying to inform people of consequences that’s kind of not useful. It suggests that you’re not actually interested in offering information; rather that you’re trying to put people in their place.

    No one in this thread has been posting any information about this fellow other than his first name, so the first part of your cut-and-paste note isn’t really applicable here. As for the other part, libel law in the United States hinges on the untruthfulness of the statement — our accused would have to show that the allegation made against him was false. While I certainly invite him to do so, if he feels the accusation is baseless, I would note that if he were to go about threatening to sue people in order to shut them up, he would in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts likely open himself to a SLAPP suit, particularly if the facts of the allegation hold.

    The short version of this is that the First Amendment is somewhat more robust than is being suggested, and that telling people they can’t or shouldn’t vent or offer opinions based something they have read online because then they might be sued for defamation is a bit of a reach. This is particularly the case with the discussion that is going on here. Allow me to suggest that, in the highly unlikley event the accused here decides to sue anyyone involved in the discussion here for libel, he’s going to end up having to pay for everyone’s court costs. That is, should he find a lawyer willing to represent him.

    I do agree that people should not harass, threaten or otherwise vex this dude out in the real world. But nothing here suggests that anything of the sort is being planned or even contemplated within the confines of this discussion.

    A more general note:

    Can we not actually cut-and-paste comments from elsewhere here, please? This is a not a depository for comments unrelated to the actual discussion we are having here, and suggests that the person dropping them is more interested in marking territory in a discussion rather than having the discussion at all. Thanks.

  48. to meet the standard of defamation the statements have to be “demonstrably and objectively false”. That hasnt happened. Personally, I think commenting on mental health status is wandering into areas that are none of our business, but other than that we are clear on legal grounds.

  49. John, thanks for the links!

    I’m so glad to see this kind of behavior being discussed. I’ve had people back me into corners, lean on me, etc. and I don’t appreciate it. I’m a rape and other trauma survivor and rather small to boot. For many years, it was hard to get anyone to even hear that nonsexual, and mabye even nontouching, behavior could be a problem.

    Glad to see the discussion.

  50. Reading this discussion this morning made me mildly annoyed that such behavior continues, but happy at the courage of the reporter and the response of Arisia. Then Kotaku ran their harrasment article and I made the mistake of reading the comments and ARGLEBLARBLARGBARRGGGG.

    Sorry, lost it for a few minutes, there.

  51. @GeekMelange: “that’s one of the things about guys like this that’s really infuriating: they’ll use the “but I’m awkward!” excuse, when they’re in fact predatory douchebags who know exactly what they’re doing, and are counting on people’s sympathies (and cultural perceptions of women being overly-sensitive and overreactive).”

    This. I love Arisia, and it just seems to get better every year, even before news of these events broke. You’ve really nailed the dynamic that so many creeps take advantage of. I had a problem with a harasser in 2007 at Arisia, and didn’t feel comfortable reporting it to the con (at least in part because it was the latest in an ongoing series of harassment and assaults from the guy, who was part of my larger social circle) but I reported it to friends, and too many of them found it easier to just decide the guy “didn’t understand boundaries” or that I was exaggerating things or that it was a “misunderstanding”, and to get mad at *me* for speaking up even in that limited, private capacity. I lost (or let go of) a lot of friends over it. I still see the guy at Arisia, and often he shows up at parties and events I’m at, but at least he no longer talks to me, follows me around, or lurks behind me as I’m talking to other people. Had the 2007 incident happened this year, I would have been much more comfortable reporting it to the con, and trusting that I wouldn’t be the one painted as the troublemaker for it, and it makes me happy to see so much support and understanding available to others unfortunate enough to be targeted by these creeps.

  52. John, I’m glad you addressed @shava’s legal inaccuracies – the reporter in me was just not going to be able to let that one go. I could point out more, but since that’s not the point here I won’t.

    I will also note that this is a such a great example of how having a functioning mechanism to report these kinds of incidents almost always leads to more reports and you find that you’ve addressed an ongoing problem. Guys like this often operate for years before they run up against a situation where they’ll have to face consequences, and every one they get away with empowers them that little bit more for next time.

    Good work to the con for having and enforcing a policy. Good work to the other cons who have realized this guy is bad news and have taken a stand against his behavior.

  53. Dru Albright Aw man…. don’t ever read the comments on these things on Kotaku (unless you want your head to explode). *offers commiserating beverage of choice* Didn’t know they had a new one up, thanks, been trying to write another “This is why we need harassment policies” post — and the new material JUST KEEPS COMING! *head desk*

    zanzjan Oh, I am so sorry that was your experience and your friends didn’t have your back like they should have. That’s awful, and 2007 wasn’t that long ago, either. It’s good to see the changes, and I hope that should you need to make a report in the future, you have people who will support YOU, because harassers, not victims, are the ones who deserve to deal with the consequences.

  54. John, while I don’t disagree with anything else you said in reply to Shava, one person did mention the person’s last name. A trivial point, I agree, but his full name is known and has been mentioned here.

  55. Twistedpeach, who’s LJ post is linked at the very top, also explicitly names him, clearly and deliberately, including a picture (added since he locked down his Facebook page). Anyone trying to track this story down to original sources can easily find out who he is.

    I’m not sure what good being circumspect about his name here will do.

  56. John, while I don’t disagree with anything else you said in reply to Shava, one person did mention the person’s last name.

    Yes? And?

    Let’s remember the point about being circumspect about identifying a person is to be careful about defamation and invasion of privacy. If people are relating true events about a person, then it is not defamatory. And I think that there is a public interest aspect to letting people know about this true behavior so that people can avoid him, which would trump his privacy concerns, especially since the people involved are the ones providing the name and face.

  57. The mentioning names thing is interesting to me. There are a couple of people I’ve cut ties with because of harassment issues. To my understanding, those who were harassed are being backed up and protected. I don’t want to name them because I’ve been told that they gotten better. But if someone else is hurt by one of them — will she have the courage to come forward, knowing the tide of public opinion?

    I think — I hope! — that knowing that you’ll be backed up no matter what will make these things more likely to be reported, with names attached to specific instances.

    What will help the most, though, will be fighting against raes culture and calling it out everywhere.

  58. Blue-Jay Said:
    >I’d be willing to address Shawn T’s concerns
    Erh, I have concerns?
    >John. I wish you hadn’t deleted half of his response.
    More than half and I’m glad he did. Some amount of what he lovingly malleted was on topic, IIRC, but inappropriate for here.

    >you = your
    Oh, I hadn’t noticed that you made a trygophlatical roarer.

  59. “Here” being I said something that gave me the [not actually redacted but: Tired now, don’t want think] when is was a kid (moo) (sorry).
    I didn’t give people a warning about triggers/trigger words.
    Some amount of what I said does _not_ belong here.

  60. John and others, thank you for so quickly debunking Shava’s “but but libel/slander” nonsense. It’s worse than simply anti-factual concern trolling and blog territory marking. It’s a toxic silencing attempt. It’s part of a whole nasty silencing bouquet that includes all the parts of “You should be ashamed of yourself for attempting to ruin his life and reputation when there’s been no proof and besides he was probably just awkward/bad at reading signals/autistic he deserves a second chance!” which show up in various combinations wherever women attempt to spread the word that there’s someone unsafe in the community.

    Harassment victims get it coming and going–they often run into stonewalling when they try to report through formal/legal channels. But then when they resort to informal channels, they get shamed for being Reckless With An Innocent Man’s Reputation. It’s almost as if there’s a concerted effort to preserve a viable hunting ground for the predator’s enjoyment, isn’t it?

    I am so glad that both channels have been open for victims and bystanders to deal with Dustin Hennessey’s various attempts at harassment and assault. The formal channels worked as they should, and the attempts to silence the informal channels have been themselves shut up. This is a stand-up job by everyone involved.

  61. I just want to say how much I appreciate not only all the blog posts this has linked to but also the conversation here and how measured it is. The conversation that is happening here is truly hopeful and gratifying and it is highly relevant to the rest of the world, too. I’m glad to see this happening anywhere at all. It is in fact the first example I have ever come across of appropriate management of this kind of thing related to how an “institution” and community responded. It also is giving me some really good insight into the tough nuances of how we talk and think about this stuff which in the past have kept me from sharing my own completely unrelated to conventions experiences with harassment. Cheers. CHEERS.

  62. @Nicole: The one thing I have to ask is: if the formal channels worked as intended, why were the “informal” channels required at all?

    That’s partially a rhetorical question. I recounted sometime back the case of a Big Name Pro with a taste for underage boys who, once word got around the con circuit, suddenly found himself with a big, mean and ugly adult escort at every con he attended. That was informal channels in the past, since the formal ones frequently didn’t exist at that time.

    I have little or no problem with passing the word among the con runners that Dustin H. is bad news and shouldn’t be allowed through the door. In this case, there seems to be plenty of evidence to that effect.

    But at what point does accusation become affirmation?

  63. @Don: I’m not quite sure what your closing question means. (Affirmation?) But to answer the one you began with, regarding informal channels: lots of reasons.

    Speaking up informally can be about informing the wider community about the perpetrator, the policy, or how the policy worked in practice.

    It can be a way of testing the waters regarding procedure and likely reception, as another attendee of this year’s Arisia may have been doing before contacting the concom directly. (in the feedback thread in the Arisia LJ community.

    It can be a way to muster support, to feel empowered, to use social resources to counter physical threat.

    And if this stuff isn’t public, eventually transmission from one con-runner to another will fail. Consider us backup in the IT sense. Redundancy = disaster preparation and prevention.

  64. I wonder how much concern there would be about accusations and doxing and second chances if the only sin this dude had committed was ghosting cons? If conrunners were passing around his photo and full name in order to let Security know to watch out for him trying to freeload at their cons, would there be the same worry and commenting about defamation and being circumspect, and concern about “informal” channels? Would anyone be hastily suggesting that maybe he has an ASD and doesn’t understand informal rules about why buying a badge is important?

    It’s also worth noting that Twistpeach was crystal clear as to why she was disclosing his full name, picture, and sufficient background detail (alma mater and former job) to uniquely identify her attacker, and further stated her opinions about whether people should shame or harass him:

    if you wish to tell Dustin Hennessey he is a shit on social media, please do something more useful and donate here.
    There are people who deserve an avalanche of internet hate. While I believe Dustin behaved in a truly disgusting manner, there is still room for the best case scenario. Perhaps he made a (series of) horrible mistake(s), will wise up, and will be a better person after humbly accepting the consequences of his actions, which he richly deserves. I do not believe that will be facilitated by a lot of strangers calling him a fuckhead on facebook.

    “Here” is a link to the Boston Area Rape Crisis Center, which provided the training at Arisia.

  65. @Claudia: You make a lot of sense; there are parts I’d mildly disagree with, but on the whole you’re right.


    Arisia, unquestionably, did the right thing in the circumstances, both in having a harassment policy and in honoring it in the clinch,

    They also unquestionably did the right thing in passing the word to the other cons Dustin H. might attend/lurk, given his reported behavior there and elsewhere.

    What I see, and what I don’t like, is how easy it is to publish accusations on the Net and have them immediately taken for facts. This is not a defense of Dustin H., just an observation.

    (And yeah, it’s a slightly personal observation. I am openly gay; if someone decides to post a claim that I go after kids, what defense do I have in the court of the Internet? None. In a court of law, yes, but in our modern Wild West…none. And I’ve come to believe that, channeling a bit of the spirit of TRON, electronic shit sticks better than any other.)

    Part of me is 100% behind the fallout from this. The other part is only 50%. And reconciling the two is going to cost me a lot of runtime.

  66. @Don: I was going to address your point about accusations, but then I realized that it probably doesn’t belong here. We’re not here to discuss the dangers of wild accusations on the internet, but that a person who has displayed clearly predatory behavior was reported to a convention’s staff, and they handled it promptly and fully supported the victim.

  67. Part of why I feel fairly comfortable with the outing of Hennessey this is that from the beginning of my reading there was a lot of corroboration around what had happened and was going on. It wasn’t a rumor, it was a (fairly explicit) personal account of a series of events which actually started out fairly simple (creepy dude is creepy, doesn’t take initial cues to back off and is creepy again, creepy dude gets reported.) and got more complex (further investigation uncovers that creepy dude is CREEPY, and ongoing discussion reveals widespread pattern of inappropriate behavior.) I’d be more ambivalent if the pattern hadn’t emerged. I believe twistedpeach says something to that effect in her post before outing him. That she hadn’t planned on it but as it became clear the extent of his damage, out him she would.

  68. @Don Hilliard

    I heartily agree that official channels should ultimately supplant unofficial channels. But think of it this way. Vigilante justice in the Old West was ugly and without all the checks and balances of an official justice system. Yet it existed precisely because there was no official system. And when Marshals began in earnest trying to put an end to the vigilante justice, they got pushback from towns that had learned the hard way they couldn’t count on the government to protect them from bandits. Eventually vigilante justice was phased out, but it took time because phasing in official justice systems took time. Neither system was or is perfect, but the townsfolk had reason to cling to their old ways.

  69. So, I looked into this, and I emailed Anime Boston asking them to remove Mr Hennessey from their staff, and the chairperson wrote me back the next day and said that they were discussing it and were aware of the recent issues. I checked this morning, and he is no longer on their list of staff. I hope that he figures out that there really are reasonable, non-predatory ways to approach women. All the healthy relationships in the world ought to be proof enough for that.

  70. So, I looked into this, and I emailed Anime Boston asking them to remove Mr Hennessey from their staff, and the chairperson wrote me back the next day and said that they were discussing it and were aware of the recent issues. I checked this morning, and he is no longer on their list of staff.

    This is why “informal channels” should continue to exist alongside of, rather than be supplanted by, “formal channels.”

    Arisia implementing their harassment policy appropriately is a wonderful thing, but Dustin Hennessey was acting in a wider community than just Arisia. There are no “formal channels” for Arisia con-runners and attendees to spread the word to Anime Boston, ConnectiCon, etc. There is no “ubercommittee” with a sexual harassment policy to apply here; conventions don’t exist in a monolithic hierarchy. I can’t see a future in which informal channels aren’t necessary.

    Informal channels include me telling my Boston area friends, “You probably already know this, but in case you don’t, this guy– [link to twistpeach’s LJ] –is not a safe person to be around. Take care of yourselves, OK?”

    A culture of “Report it to the police/make a harassment complaint and then shut up” is still privileging the harasser’s enjoyment over his (potential) victim’s safety. It would remove the ability of Anime Boston to learn from Arisia’s experience. It would remove my ability to care for and protect my friends.

    I don’t know how to address worries about the same “informal” channels being used to smear people unfairly. Power can be used for good and evil; that’s true also of the power of communication. I can only look at this conversation and see that what came out of it were multiple substantiated accounts of Dustin’s harrassing and assaulting women. I imagine that absent such accounts, the community response would be different in both proportion and kind.

  71. @GeekMelange, or anyone else:

    We have a team in Michigan, and the rest of us are portable. :)

    We may ask for travel expenses, based on the request, but we can work with you.

    For example we have worked with a Con in Canada. We also provide consulting services for conventions with regard to safety.

    We will also work with another group that’s trying to do something similar.

    James Rosse

  72. There is not an “ubercommittee,” but lots of the folks who run AB also work Arisia, so there is a lot more continuity than one might expect.

    James Rosse

  73. @Nicole, the only problem is that one person’s ‘informal channels’ is another person’s ‘missing stair’. The two aren’t mutually exclusive, which is what I think you were suggesting, and I wholeheartedly agree.

    @Gulliver: “Vigilante justice in the Old West was ugly and without all the checks and balances of an official justice system. Yet it existed precisely because there was no official system. ”

    The lack of governmental sanctioned justice was is not the same thing as a system with no checks and balances: relevant to our discussion here is the fact that wagon trains, mining camps, land clubs and cattleman associations were formed with binding contracts enforced by its members. Mining camps had their own detailed legal systems with judges, juries and a legal process mutually agreed to by its members. The ‘wild west’ wasn’t really all that wild, despite media representations of such. Heck, afaik, the worst example of vigilante justice occurred in Sand Francisco in the 1860s, where there weren’t enough policemen to stop them any more than they could in New York.

  74. @Nicole, the only problem is that one person’s ‘informal channels’ is another person’s ‘missing stair’. The two aren’t mutually exclusive, which is what I think you were suggesting, and I wholeheartedly agree.

    I think we are making overlapping points. The “informal channels” are how we warn each other about “the missing stair.” It isn’t sufficient, as those who coined the term pointed out! But it is valuable and necessary. We need the ability to warn each other that the missing stair is missing, even while we are doing everything we can to fix it, because even the best and most appropriate means of fixing it take time during which an uninformed person can still get hurt.

    Make sense?

  75. gwangung, I don’t have a problem with it. Just a factual correction.

    mythago, If his only crime had been ghosting, I doubt anyone would have noticed him at all. That said, though, I doubt his name being passed around would cause a defensive reaction. But there’s another reason in addition to the one you cite.

    Imagine saying “No, I can’t go to Arisia. I got caught ghosting and they banned me.”

    Compare “I got caught sexually harassing women and they banned me.”

    Sexual harassment is a bigger blot on someone’s record—and should be. And I don’t agree with the people who say his name shouldn’t be bandied about. But that, I think, is most of why people want to be careful about saying it (in addition to concerns about libel).

    Also, “you have to pay to go to a con” is a simple rule that people with ASDs can follow. So is “never touch anyone who hasn’t touched you first,” but that isn’t the actual rule, is it? If that rule were universally followed, no one would touch anyone. Given sexist society/rape culture, “women have to initiate touching” is a good rule, but only works for heterosexuals. The real rules are complex and subtle and just the sort of thing that people with ASDs have trouble with. (I am at the opposite end of the scale from ASD, and I have misread these signals—mostly erring on the side of caution and being told later “that guy was totally hitting on you! Why did you walk away?!” Because if I’m wrong the other way I stand to lose teeth, that’s fucking why.)

    Even if the rule for people with ASDs (if and only if they ask for advice) is that they should never initiate (or escalate) touching, that won’t help them if they’re the victims of harassment.

    Let me say right here that I don’t believe DH’s behavior can be excused by an ASD, even if he has one. Too consistent for too long, and the ASD people I know are eager to learn any rules that can help them avoid embarrassment or line-crossing.

    Some years ago I had a problem with a woman who kept grabbing my ass (at SCA events, which is relevant because I was wearing tights). That’s not OK. I didn’t know what to do, but eventually I complained to a mutual friend and she cut it the hell out—which really points out the difference between men’s and women’s position in rape culture. And no one brought up my wearing tights.

  76. mythago: I wonder how much concern there would be about accusations and doxing and second chances if the only sin this dude had committed was ghosting cons?

    That’s a false equivalence. as the severity of the accusation goes up, the consequences if the accusation turning out to be false goes up as well. a public shame campaign against someone accused of cheating at tiddlywinks wont get as much concern from folks as a campaign accusing someone of pyromania, because the damage done if the accusations turn out to be false is much different.

    Nicole: I imagine that absent such accounts, the community response would be different in both proportion and kind.

    A single person, Chrystal Gail Mangum, leveling accusations of rape at the duke lacrosse team, resulted in Mike Pressler, the team coach, receiving threatening e-mails and hate calls, had castigating signs placed on his property, and was the frequent victim of vandalism in the aftermath of the accusations. Some Duke students said they were threatened. Mobs protested outside the house where the rape was supposed to have taken place. The prosecuter for the case lied to the public and in court about the DNA evidence, and behaved so badly that he was eventually disbarred. The police were accused of stacking the deck in the photo line up to help convict the accused students and were also accused of intimidating witnesses to convict the accused students. The “group of 88” professors at the university signed an advertisement which basically said the accusations were true, and that advertisement was then published two weeks after the accusations.

    Generally speaking, one would imagine the community would respond in proportion to the level of accusations and in proportion to the certainty of evidence. But that’s not always the case.

  77. My general feeling about the “But what about the damage of false accusations?!?!?” thing:

    When given a choice between two evils, choose the one that doesn’t exist.

    Which is more common: creepers are given a pass for being creepy, or guys are hurt by false claims of being creepy? So-called “men’s rights activists” scour the world for isolated cases of women falsely claiming that men raped them, and have found a handful.

    On the other hand, just about every woman everywhere has dealt with multiple instances of being creeped on, and having their problem dismissed as unimportant.

    When balancing between these two evils, one should probably put more effort into combatting the problem that actually exists than the one that doesn’t.

  78. I am a social worker. I work with survivors and perpetrators of abuse pretty much every day. Discussions about the mental health status of abusers always make me shake my head. The only utility for making a diagnosis related to abuse, in my opinion, is to identify possible treatments for abusers, so that abusers stop abusing, Full stop. The rest of the rationales are just to protect abusers.

  79. I’m not sure whether I got it from the comments or from a link Mr Scalzi put up: But? Seems that my continuing education (my f’g Point Of Sale new years resolution that I keep upgrading because the PITA f’r makes me a better person) means that I need to go to a class at a rape crises center. Not sure which class.
    ASide: ‘Kitten kicker’ is not a four letter word. “Rape” is.

    Fond memories. Somebody on a talk show said something about how all broadcast TV would show a woman (didn’t say about never a man) getting raped, but would never show a man getting kicked in the balls. One production time later? “All” shows had some guy who was trying to do the acting for that.

  80. Tod? You have my sympathies.
    And I hope that you are knowledgeable enough/big enough to break something of a villains so that he/she will be in pain, but still be able to go to work to get mac n cheese money and cat food and rent….

  81. It looks like, from reading what I just said that I’m espousing physical violence. I’m not.

  82. It seems to me that in this particular case a couple of unofficial, informal, steps took place that probably affected the overall outcome of this case:

    1. Twistpeach posted about her harassment, and her positive experience with Arisia’s enforcement of its anti-harassment policy. She named names.
    2. Other victims of her harasser came forward with their past negative experiences with him.

    As someone else put it: Twistpeach said creep was creepy. Others verified that creep was CREEPY creepy.

    As a result, he’s been banned from Arisia and other cons, and now everyone is going to keep an eye on him.

    But what if those steps hadn’t happened? If Jane Doe goes to Arisia staff and complains about Richard Roe, is satisfied by the result, and then doesn’t post about it on LJ or Facebook, does Mr. Roe stay on the staff of the next con down the road? Does he get watched for inappropriate behavior at his LARP? Or does he continue to go to cons and be creepy until someone publicly posts “Richard Roe harassed me” and others say “Me too”?

  83. @Xopher, is the severity really the issue, or is rape culture? Because if the claimed concern is “it’s too easy to lie about people and have those lies spread in ways that hurt them,” then it’s interesting that only gets busted out when the misconduct in question is sexual harassment. Nobody is wringing their hands that somebody might get banned from multiple cons because somebody lied about them ghosting. And while you and I and most sensible people would likely agree that sexual harassment is way worse than con ghosting, I think the long and sordid history of fandom tolerating that behavior makes it clear that rather a lot of people don’t think sexual harassment is a biggie, or as clearly improper as con ghosting. After all, nobody says that the con deserved to have a horde of people crash the private author’s party because it had such awesome snacks it was asking for it. Nobody says that somebody who snuck into the con suite must have had Aspergers because, whoa, there are some areas of the con that are open without a badge and some that aren’t and FFS, we all know those poor people with ASDs cannot possibly cope if rules are not 100% black and while all the time.

    Re ASDs, understanding here that the argument isn’t coming from you so I’m not ranting at you: it’s a bullshit, red-herring argument. It’s bullshit, because it gets trotted out every time some dude behaves like an assweasel even if there’s not a shred of information whatsoever that he is not neurotypical. It’s ableist, because it posits all men on the spectrum as rapists-in-waiting who are biologically incapable of keeping their dicks to themselves. It’s more than a little maliciously victim-blaming, because it implies that the woman complaining about the behavior is picking on a person with a disability – and then we cue all the lectures about how victims have an obligation to patiently and endlessly teach How To Act Around Females 101 to sexual predators because there’s a chance they may have made it to grown ass adulthood without learning you don’t grab strangers’ bodies just because you want to sex them. (TL;DR, Todd Stull is correct that what-if-the-harasser-has-Issues is pointless and derailing.)

  84. mythago: Nobody is wringing their hands that somebody might get banned from multiple cons because somebody lied about them ghosting.

    Did you read all the shit that happened to the accused students in the duke lacrosse case? Do you seriously think that accusing someone of ghosting a con is going to get that person death threats? Mobs protesting outside their home? the police operating with bias? The prosecuter lying to the point of getting disbarred?

    Christ, we had someone on this very thread wishing the accused an early death. You think people are going to wish death on someone who ghosts a con?

    Are you equally open about publishing the full name of victims? Is it just information for people ot know to help understand the case? Or are there possible issues with assholes tracking down the victim because they’re a friend or fan of the accused?

    Look, I don’t have a problem with this guy getting banned. The procedure was in place and it seems to have worked exactly as intended.But to pretend that the only reason anyone could possibly be even the slightest bit concerned about publicizing the accused’s information is because they support rape culture, is just nonsense.

  85. Greg:

    Yellow flag. If you can’t make a comment without inserting 50 percent more hostility in your attitude, you need to walk away. You are already dubiously conflating what’s happened here with that Duke case. It’s put you on thin ice in more than one way. So tread lightly or I am going to have to tell you to move on.

  86. I’m not glad the incident happened, obviously, but I am glad that, having happened, it played out like this, and that it’s being discussed. Because I haven’t seen anyone make the argument that harassment policies provide no benefit because they don’t stop harassment from happening, but that doesn’t mean it hasn’t been made, or won’t be, so I’m glad to see an illustration of the benefit that policies do provide

  87. What upsets me is that people are jumping on this bandwagon of shunning and hate, without getting the other side. I was there for these events, and while yes he fucked up about drinking too much and making a girl feel uncomfortable in a hotel room. He stopped when he was asked, she was NOT asleep, and he did not sneak into any events. The one event that was run by the con, the Dance, he was at for maybe 15-20 minutes cause some friends wanted to dance, where he sat on a chair unable to really move until they assisted him back to the room. Could the writer of the post sat next to him at the dance? Possibly. Could he have harassed her in such a way as described, No. Maybe patted her arm if she seemed upset and was RIGHT next to him, but I don’t even think he could have recognized his name at that point, let alone recognized that she was the one he made uncomfortable by leaning back into her at rocket fuel, or stood to move to where they were and then lean over someone.

    It is very important for people to feel comfortable about reporting incidents where they believed they might be harassed, but to witch-hunt to this extent before all the information is collected is deplorable.

  88. Tay:

    “Could he have harassed her in such a way as described, No.”

    Just so we’re clear on this, Tay: You’re calling this woman a liar and saying that her version of the events is false.

    That’s not a question, incidentally. You are calling this woman a liar and saying her version of the events is false.

    You also appear to be conflating two separate incidents involving this gentleman, and in doing so, casting a substantial amount of doubt that “you were there for these events.” Also, as you appear to have conflated two separate women in your telling, this also casts doubt on your assertion that she’s lying and that her version of events is false. Which woman is lying? Are both?

    Beyond this, your comment is the proverbial Bingo card of justification, starting with the “IF he did it, he was too drunk to realize it” gambit, because apparently being drunk is an excuse for harassing action, and moving on to “hey, he stopped when he was asked,” because obviously stopping your harassment of someone when you’re told to erases all the harassment beforehand.

    You are actively acknowledging this fellow acted in an entirely inappropriate and harassing manner, and yet telling us we have not heard both sides of the story.

    The good news is, Tay, that you have wandered along here to share the other side. Thank you. With the new information that you have brought to light, it appears that everyone involved, excepting the gentleman in question, acted appropriately in dealing with his actions, and that your friend, whose actions you witnessed — but interestingly enough, did nothing to stop — was a drunken, harassing jerk.

    You’re a good friend, Tay!

  89. I was at both events described as proof that he needs to be dealt as harshly as everyone says he is, considering I spent most of the evening with him. I thought this a good avenue to finally speak, where I myself wouldn’t be attacked, but from your caustic reply questioning me, I assumed wrong.

    Even if you don’t believe me, it is fine, I have already submitted a full statement on all activities of Dustin of which I was present, which is most of the evening, to Arisia, and it is their job to take in evidence and decide the correct sentence. The information I gave was to make people think, and to not witch hunt and in return harass someone for a crime that might be more grey than black and white. Did Dustin do something wrong? Absolutely. Even as a friend, not being aware that he may have made someone uncomfortable is not something to be taken lightly. Did he drink too much. Hell yes, and told him as much even before anything came to light.

    Harassment and sexual harassment are serious issues that need to be challenged and brought to the proper authorities, and I commend the poster for doing just that. I do condone the public shaming that is happening before everything is clear and a decision made. If events happened that I did not witness, then I will be first in line to ensure that everything is done so it doesn’t happen again.

  90. Tay:

    “I thought this a good avenue to finally speak, where I myself wouldn’t be attacked, but from your caustic reply questioning me, I assumed wrong.”

    Tay, if you leave a post that reads like the already-described bingo card of rationalization for this fellow’s actions, which leaves no doubt that you believe at least one of the women involved is lying, you should expect some pushback for that. Understand, please, that calling at least one of these women a liar and offering rationalizations for your friends’ behavior are not value-neutral acts; because they are not, they are worth confronting in no uncertain terms. If you didn’t believe I would offer you that pushback, and strongly, you are indeed correct that you have misjudged this venue.

    With that said, I will note that all of the discussion here has transpired after information was collected and decisions made, at least as they involve Arisia. So the thesis that there was still something left indeterminate at this point is not accurate.

    As for the information not being black and white: No one, even you, disputes your friend acted entirely inappropriately with regard to at least one of these women. Rationalizations of his behavior aside, there was apparently more than enough for Arisia to make a determination that he’s no longer welcome. If there are shades of gray here, and I’m happy to concede that there may be, they appear to be of the charcoal variety.

  91. So, Tay, you’re saying that you were in the hotel room with Dustin and a woman who was in sleep paralysis and could neither move nor speak, and watched Dustin put his lips to her thigh, and did nothing to stop him? Really? Because that’s one of the events we’re talking about here. And absent prior consent, that’s very clearly sexual assault.

  92. Tay,

    How does everything become clear? At what point does clarity shine down on everyone? What is this decision that you expect will be made?

    There is no witch-hunt. No one is showing up with torches to burn Dustin at the stake. He is being called out on his abuse. I see this all the time, that when someone is called out on their abuse, there is always a reason why it happened that makes it less than abuse.

    Well, no, it’s not. It’s abuse. Touching someone without their consent is assault. It’s not like we are describing two people who are getting to know each other, and one sneaks a kiss that is unexpected or unwanted. I take the word of the women who have spoken out at face value. Just because you cannot imagine their experience does not make their experience any less real.

  93. There is an adage which I can’t quite recall, but it goes something like “Intoxication lowers your inhibitions; which means that the things you do while drunk are the things you already wanted to do, but didn’t because you were worried about what other people think”

  94. Tay,

    Had you read k1ttycat’s post, you would also realize that she had been harassed by Hennessey before. He had pulled her into his bunk at a previous LARP and tried to kiss her, which she had to pull herself away from and explain in no uncertain terms that she was not interested.

    So, again, please explain to me where the “gray area” is when he took advantage of her medical disorder to begin assaulting her in his hotel room, particularly after she had already told him months prior that she was not in any way, shape, or form interested?

    To be brutally honest, the fact that she had already turned him down should NOT even be part of this discussion, considering what he straight-up did was unconscionable, and inexcusable, but since you feel the need to attempt to turn this around, I figured it would be best that you got your facts straight.

  95. @mythago

    Yes, accusations of more severe transgressions are themselves more severe. Words have real tangible power. If I tell someone mythago stole my newspaper it puts you in more dire doubt than if I tell someone you murdered my dog. And that’s all I’m going to say on that because that subtopic is a total derail.

    @Todd Stull

    There’s also the multiple corroborating witnesses.

  96. Worth noting is that it took the Mask People being bastards to get anything useful to happen.
    Huh, not sure who I’m answering. I’m talking about the one where the local prosecutor saw the vids and decided he didn’t want to arrest his friend’s son.

  97. @booksomewench: the “gray area” is that Tay is Dustin’s friend.

    @Gulliver: look, I don’t care if you agree with me or choose to engage, but “let’s drop this derail after I get my two cents in” is kinda bad form.

  98. So let’s see: everybody seems to be in agreement that this guy was in a hotel room with a woman who trusted him and had a debilitating medical condition known to many and to the man himself, and he sexually assaulted her. His claimed friend not only confirms this, but says that the man’s friends watched him do it and did nothing.

    Everybody including the man’s claimed friends confirm that the man was attending convention events illegally. His friends did nothing to stop this.

    A woman who was acquainted with the man saved him a floor seat at the event because she was asked to do so, (presumably not knowing that he was there illegally.) He thanked her by trying to grope her in public. He also tried to press himself on another woman in public. She gave him the benefit of a doubt on it, not knowing that he had groped the other woman who had saved him the floor spot.

    At a party with dancing later, the woman who got squashed was in the middle of an emergency with her partner when the man tried to fondle her, in public, in front of witnesses, including volunteer emergency techs. The person claiming to be the man’s friend says that this person watched the man all night and therefore knows he couldn’t have done it, that he was too drunk to move. Yet at the same time, this friend is unsure whether the man was near the woman who was fondled or not, so apparently was not watching the man the whole time.

    More and more people are coming forward with stories about how this man sexually harassed them, they saw him sexually harass others, or they were warned to stay away from the man as a sexual harasser. Despite having a reputation for drunken and harassing behavior, he was involved in the running of several conventions in the local area.

    This is all sounding remarkably familiar: the man who is deeply involved in fan events, has developed a reputation at the events for sexual harassment and other obnoxious behavior, does many of these harassments in public in front of witnesses, is excused on the grounds that he is a person with emotional problems, is drunk, promised not to do it again next time, and/or the claim that groping and stalking women are “grey” areas, instead of incidents that should get you arrested. Luckily, thanks to the harassment policy, it wasn’t the convention staff making those arguments.

    Women who get groped are not always going to be quiet about it anymore. Witnesses to public gropings are not always going to slink into the shadows anymore. And conventions are not going to work with or let attend harassers who can get them sued. And if you are going to let someone you know grope, grab or chase a woman or anybody else around the convention floor and just sit there and watch, don’t expect much sympathy when you bleat about it. “He didn’t abuse those women that much” is not a valid argument.

  99. @mythago: Nope, I meant exactly what I said. That’s all I’m going to say on that subtopic. I take it as read that you or anyone else deserves to respond, and I will read and head because I’m here for a conversation, not a polemic. But I have a habit of straying way off topic and I wanted it to be understood why I wouldn’t broach that topic again. I wasn’t telling you to drop it. I’m saying I’ve dropped it. What would be gained by me pursuing it when I’ve said all I have to say about it?

  100. @Tay – I know you’re trying to be a good friend by defending Dustin, but you’re not. You’re actually being an enabler, by offering excuses (“he was too drunk when he did the things he did”) to his behavior. Being drunk might be the “reason”, but it does not excuse his actions, neither does apologizing after the fact. Especially not if the apology in any way involves the words “I was drunk.”

    If you REALLY want to be a good friend – don’t make excuses. Don’t enable him. Instead — GET HIM HELP. From the sound of things, it’s more than just these two girls who had issues with him; at this con and/or in the past. So, if his behavior is due to his drinking, then it sounds like he might have an underlying drinking problem. Talk to him about going to AA or rehab, stage an intervention if you need to. Tell him you don’t want to be around him if he’s going to drink like that — because his harassing behaviors when drunk reflect back on you. They definitely reflect back on you if you’re there when he’s harassing/assaulting someone, and you do nothing to stop it. Be a TRUE friend and get him help.

  101. Just wanted to thank you for publishing the link to this article. I am on the board of a small nonprofit that runs an international convention every two years. We’re aquarium hobbyists, not a sci-fi convention, but when I brought the article to the attention of the rest of the board, we decided we should adopt a harassment policy both for our big convention and all our smaller events.

  102. mythago (January 30, 2014 at 10:11 am), hmm. I’ll skip commenting about the derail, but I agree about ASDs.

    Keiran, Hear, hear. Simple rule: If your behavior under the influence of large quantities of alcohol is unacceptable, the only acceptable course is to stop drinking large quantities of alcohol. If drinking small quantities of alcohol leads inevitably to drinking large ones, the only acceptable course is to stop drinking altogether.

    The only time drunkenness is an excuse is if the alcohol was administered by force, deception, or coercion, in which case the person who administered it bears responsibility for ALL the behavior of the drunk-by-force person. (First-time intoxication might be a gray area.)

    We do no one any favors by pretending their behavior is acceptable when it is not. That doesn’t help them fix the real problem.

  103. This is one of the aspects that I find so baffling; the whole ‘my friend was drunk so it really wasn’t his fault’, coupled with the complete absence of any kind of recognition that a friend would recognise that there is a major problem with someone who drinks and then behaves atrociously.

    Surely a friend would devote his time to getting that friend to seek medical/psychological help rather than posting stuff on the web saying ‘my friend was drunk so it really wasn’t his fault’. At what point does the putative friend accept that encouraging someone to believe that they have a get out clause is simply ensuring that they will keep on doing it?

  104. “Ghosting a convention”
    I recently learned that that might mean that somebody is at a convention without the ability to prove that they bought the tickets themselves.

    Something I don’t remember about a thing is whether anybody got arrested. That lot bought all the tickets? and scalped them? No real customers where able to buy tickets. Flaw in the ticket sale system.

    ‘my friend was drunk so it really wasn’t his fault’ that he stepped on my goldfish. This premise has been accepted by judges. My angry answer: One moment please while I get impaired enough for it to be legal for me to not remember anything.

  105. Shawn: First, the kind of convention we’re talking about here doesn’t sell “tickets”, but rather “memberships”. There’s an important philosophical difference there. If you buy a ticket, you are a passive audience member. If you are a member, you’re part of the group which is all throwing each other the convention. Some people have more official roles, but the idea is that we’re all in this together.

    Second, it’s perfectly fine for one person to buy another person a membership. The important thing is that you have the membership, which is signified by the badge. If you don’t have a badge, you’re not allowed into convention-specific venues, such as programming and the consuite. Room parties do not always require badges; that’s up to the people throwing the room party.

    Third, I don’t understand what you’re talking about as a “flaw in the ticket sale system.” If “no real customers were able to buy tickets”, then how did the convention get to its membership cap? Were they all fake people? I’ve certainly never heard of anyone “scalping” “tickets” for Arisia.

  106. “flaw in the ticket sale system.”
    “Third, I don’t understand what you’re talking about as a “flaw in the ticket sale ”
    Technical thing. Nineties thing = last century thing. No real person was (I don’t recall whether I’m exaggerating) able to buy tickets. All tickets were bought by scalpers, and resold by the scalpers.
    Perhaps it was Ticketmaster that said that there was no problem.

  107. Fourth, Cally, et al I’m pushing sixty YO. Trying to figure out slang like “ghosting a convention” is as fucking exhausting to me as your listening to my explaining a financial scandal from the last century would be to you.

  108. Check your assumptions, Shawn. I’m 50, myself, and I remember the Ticketmaster scandals. What I don’t understand is how you could possibly apply them to Arisia. It’s not like there’s a third party making money off selling tickets. As for “ghosting”, that’s simply attending a convention without paying. Usually it means hanging out in the bar or lobby, and maybe attending parties, since one is not supposed to be allowed into function space or the consuite. That’s why conventions have “badgers”, who sit and watch for badges at the entrances to those convention-specific spaces. Ghosting is frowned upon, but sometimes winked at for well-behaved people who are known to be down on their luck. This, of course, varies by convention.

    What I mostly don’t understand is your apparent focus on the fact that he was ghosting rather than the sexual harassment and assault.

  109. I don’t know what Arisia is, except mostly I do.
    “As for “ghosting””
    Oh, so that’s like the time when I was this close to a heatstroke, and entered a wedding reception because of the AC. Saved my life, the guards didn’t. Saved me a hospital charge, the guards did.
    I thank them for the water.

  110. “What I mostly don’t understand is your apparent focus on the fact that he was ghosting rather than the sexual harassment and assault.”


    I know what a disgusting touch feels like. We’d rather I not describe that.

    The term “ghosting” is new to me, and what I thought it meant from googling it seems to be at best not accurate.
    I’m all about no bad dreams. I prefer to focus on the jargon I don’t understand that the kids are using nowadays to dwelling on how her hands felt sticky, and I couldn’t get them off.

  111. As for jargon that “the kids are using nowadays”, I first heard the term back at least 30 years ago. I’m sure “the kids” are using lots of jargon, but this is old fart’s jargon. You’re right, though, that it’s jargon and not slang; It’s not a term I’ve heard outside the science fiction convention community. If you think of it as “crashing” as in “crashing the party” (not as in “crashing the car”, “crashing on the sofa”, or “crashing from that high”) you won’t be far wrong.

  112. Thank you, Cally.
    Yeah, I should have listened to just below this, and just wandered off to wash the dishes vis what “ghosting” means to a convention expert.

  113. Dear Tay,

    I’m the person you are calling a liar. If you want the timestamp on my report to Arisia security, the witness accounts of my boyfriend and his buddy and my two friends at Rocket Fuel, the name of the EMT who saw Dustin sitting next to us and took my initial report that he was bugging us, please let me know. I don’t know how much proof you need before you will admit that your buddy has a problem, but I’ve got plenty.

    I’m especially sorry that you think sexual contact with people who have explicitly told you they do not want it is not a big deal. I’m sorry for anyone who is friends with you. I’m sorry for anyone around you. Because you obviously will not have their backs.

    If you want to call me a liar, have the courage to say it to my face. Unlike many people who have just been harassed and assaulted, I’ve got the energy to defend myself from people who presume I am a liar. If you think I deserve an interrogation, I’m standing right here. I will not let excuses for serial sexual assault slide because I’m too cowed to face your criticism.

  114. twistpeach: Good for you to stand up.

    I’m a quite clueless hetero male, and back when I was a teen age [erh durp burp censored] I understood enough to know that certain things were a reason to Back Off and say ‘It was great to meet you” and go away.
    As I understand _this_ Arisia thing and iced bed pan providers and internet nyms I am not willing to try to figure out who you are answering because I don’t know enough.

  115. She’s answering someone who’s posted a couple of times in this comment thread–Tay (hence “Dear Tay”). You’ll see those posts upthread, dated January 30.

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