(Friends, please note that there are trigger warnings for sexual assault, depression, & suicidal ideation applied to the following statement.)
Thank you to everyone who has gotten in touch with me & with Half Mystic in the past two weeks to share their experiences with the sexual assault case we’ve been investigating, in which an anonymous person over Instagram accused one of our editors of sexually harassing & assaulting them when the two were in school together. You can read our initial statement on this matter here.
After putting out that original statement, I & the team received a number of incredibly enlightening emails & messages from individuals on both sides of the discussion, did some further research into these accusations, & learned more information that we hadn’t been privy to before.
We came to the conclusion that, based on this new information Half Mystic learned, it’s exceedingly likely that there is at least some truth in the accusations. As such, we made the tough decision to remove the editor in question from the HM team.
As you’ll know if you’ve been following this case, this is a pivot from HM’s original point of view on this situation. We came to this decision largely due to the sheer number of people who came forward after that first statement went live to let us know they had had uncomfortable experiences with the editor. While I & our team started out this whole situation wanting to give our editor the benefit of the doubt, believing we knew them well enough to know that they would never intentionally or unintentionally commit such acts, right now we’re in a place where the evidence & the new information we’ve learned from victims are telling us otherwise.
I know this decision comes as a disappointment to those friends & supporters who reached out to vouch for this editor’s character both preceding & following the initial statement we put out on this matter. Frankly, I am incredibly disappointed by this outcome as well. I don’t want to believe that this editor—who everyone on our team knew, loved, & trusted, & who has done wonderful, necessary work for the literary community—could be the perpetrator of such deep & lasting harm.
At the same time, though, we simply cannot ignore the testimony of the large number of people who have come forward to share their stories. No matter what light I put this into, I can’t come close to fathoming the idea of all these people somehow spinning a vast conspiracy to destroy this person’s career out of no reason other than spite. For better or worse, the idea that the editor did, in fact, commit these acts feels much more plausible.
I’d also like to directly address two points that this editor’s friends & supporters have brought up in emailing & messaging us. Many of the arguments we’re receiving go along the lines of pointing out that this editor is both a victim of sexual assault themselves, & also suffers from severe depression & suicidal ideation.
We’re very aware of these points, & this knowledge is part of the reason we were hesitant to take disciplinary action against the editor at the beginning of this case. Yet, at the same time, we know that being a victim of terrible things does not prevent people from inflicting persistent harm onto others, whether intentionally or unintentionally. We don’t think it’s right to tiptoe around this issue in light of the fact that the editor has themselves experienced trauma. Fundamentally, they had agency & choice in the actions they’ve done, & their past experiences don’t change that.
There will probably never be a way to know for sure what did or did not happen years ago. But we, the Half Mystic team, & I, as our editor-in-chief, honestly & genuinely believe these accusations hold truth. We believe survivors of sexual harassment & assault. We care about upholding that value, & about holding our staff members, contributors, & authors to the same standard. I couldn’t consider this thing we’ve created a safe space for marginalised voices or victims of sexual assault if we let this slide, & that would be a great disservice to the brilliant, diverse, & compassionate community surrounding Half Mystic—many of whom are sexual assault survivors themselves.
This is our final & definitive statement on this matter.
Thank you to those who have come forward privately on both sides of the discussion to share your experiences with me & the team. While this decision was incredibly difficult to come to terms with, we stand by it, & will not be engaging in further discussion or argument on the issue of these accusations.
We will be back to our regularly scheduled programming at HM—with an announcement of our nominees for the 2019 Pushcart Prize, a new episode of Half Mystic Radio, & a preorder announcement for Issue VI: Interlude—next week. Sending light to you.
(p.s. a special thank you to the friends & readers who stayed constant & true while all of this was happening. thank you for being here. thank you for supporting the choices i & hm have made, even & especially when we're not sure of them ourselves. thank you for sending animal gifs & staying up late to talk through our options & holding me while i cried. thank you for putting up with what a momentously terrible friend i've been for the past two weeks.
it's been tough going, but i feel good, deep in my marrow, about this choice we've made. i think it's the right one for our company & our world. thank you for staying with us as we work to preserve half mystic as the safe, vibrant, warm space for the arts it's always been.)