A new report claims that Activision CEO Bobby Kotick knew of alleged sexual assault and harassment allegations in company-owned studios but did not share the information with the company’s board of directors. The same report says that Jen Oneal – who was recently named co-head of the company before announcing her departure just three months later – was previously molested at the company, paid less than her male counterpart Mike Ybarra, and said she was “tokenized” by the company.
A new Wall Street Journal report continues the longstanding scandal within Activision Blizzard that emerged when the state of California filed a lawsuit against the company. The report focuses on Kotick and states that internal documents and sources familiar with the company show that the CEO was aware of many of the reported abuses within the company – including the rape allegations sent directly to Kotick – but did not inform the board of all that it knew.
An Activision spokesperson told the WSJ that “Mr. Kotick would not have been notified of every report of wrongdoing at every Activision Blizzard company, nor would he reasonably be expected to have been kept informed of any personnel issues.”
Kotick himself told the WSJ that “he and the board of directors now expect to be better informed about workplace issues than in the past,” and that the examples cited in his reporting are exceptions to the company’s normal behavior.
Update 11/16, 9:46 a.m. PT: After the WSJ report was published, Kotick released a public message describing the article as “inaccurate and misleading” about the company and himself. Kotick also said that anyone who “doubts” [his] Belief in “creating the most inclusive workplace” doesn’t really appreciate how important it is to me. “ full message here.
The report also contains a number of new allegations against current and former employees. Dan Bunting, co-head of Treyarch, allegedly sexually molested an employee in 2017 but was kept on after the deliberation for his contribution to the Call of Duty series, despite HR’s recommendation that he be fired. Bunting reportedly left Treyarch after the WSJ asked to discuss the alleged incident.
Javier Panameno, a manager at Sledgehammer Games, was reportedly charged with rape by an employee and molesting a second woman. Panameno was eventually fired. Another Sledgehammer employee, Eduard Roerich, was also accused of sexual harassment. Roerich was given two weeks of paid vacation and joined Activision before being fired from the company following another incident in which he quarreled with a manager.
The report also includes a section on the departure of Jen Oneal, who was named co-head of Activision Blizzard – the company’s first female executive – but resigned after just three months. After a month in the role, Oneal reportedly emailed Activision’s senior management saying that “it was clear the company would never prioritize our employees right”. The report said she was paid less than her male co-boss, Mike Ybarra, and told leadership that she was “tokenized, marginalized and discriminated against”. Oneal also claims that she was sexually molested prior to her time as co-head of the company at Activision.
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