It appears 13 Reasons Why‘s graphic content isn’t the only controversy linked to the Netflix adaptation. Author Jay Asher, who wrote the original novel the teen drama is based on, was reportedly expelled from a writers association he belonged to due to sexual harassment allegations. The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators actually kicked the 13 Reasons Why author out last year but, in the #MeToo era, the news is just coming to light.
Stories about Asher and illustrator David Diaz’s behavior apparently showed up in a comment thread recently after the School Library Journal published a piece about harassment in the children’s publishing industry. SCBWI Executive Director Lin Oliver told The Associated Press that Asher and illustrator Diaz had violated the society’s harassment code.
Though, she didn’t detail what, specifically, the author and illustrator were being accused of:
Asher told BuzzFeed News this week that he was the one who ended his membership with the group and that the anonymous people who accused him of sexual misconduct via email have been harassing him “for close to 10 years.”
13 Reasons Why, a story about high schooler Hannah Baker who leaves tapes behind to explain the reasons she decided to commit suicide, is Asher’s first book. (He’s also known for The Future of Us.) The Netflix series based on 13 Reasons Why made headlines both for its popularity and its depictions of teen suicide and sexual assault that some deemed to be problematic.
The show, which earned a Golden Globe nomination for star Katherine Langford, has a second season in the works, and according to the Associated Press, there’s been no word yet on whether the accusations against Asher will affect it.
Update, February 14th 12:31 p.m. PST — Tamara Taylor, a spokesperson for Jay Asher, has issued the following statement:
“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.”