The author of the popular novel turned Netflix series “Thirteen Reasons Why” was expelled from a prominent children’s writing organization over claims of sexual harassment.
Jay Asher was removed from the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators last year, but the news came to light on Monday after an article published in the School Library Journal that provided an overview of sexual harassment in the children’s publishing industry.
Lin Oliver, the executive director of the Society, told the Associated Press that he had violated the harassment code in place by the organization.
“Both Jay Asher and David Diaz were found to have violated the SCBWI code of conduct in regard to harassment,” Oliver wrote in an email. “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.”
In the article published by School Library Journal, both Asher and prize-winning illustrator Diaz were mentioned as the allegations came to light amid the #MeToo movement.
Asher denied being pushed out of SCBWI and said he left on his own accord.
“It’s very scary when you know people are just not going to believe you once you open your mouth,” he told BuzzFeed on Monday. “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.”
Oliver later confirmed that the complaints received were via email — amd Asher told BuzzFeed that the organization told him at the time that the emails showed nothing.
“I understand the predicament they’re in with everything going on and to want to protect themselves,” Asher continued. “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.”
“Thirteen Reasons Why” was published in 2007. It follows high school student Hannah Baker who commits suicide and leaves behind 13 tapes for her classmates to decipher. It became a No.1 New York Times best-seller and has received backlash for its portrayal of suicide.
It later inspired the Netflix series “13 Reasons Why,” which debuted on the streaming service last year and was executive produced by Selena Gomez.
Late Tuesday, Asher announced that he had postponed his book signing tour in Manila.
“We took the time over the last few days to look into this matter. We value your opinions, and your safety and comfort are our utmost priority,” the touring team said in a statement.
With News Wire Services