Best-selling author Jay Asher, who penned Thirteen Reasons Why, was expelled from the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators because of sexual harassment allegations, according to the Associated Press.
Executive director Lin Oliver told AP that Asher violated the organization’s harassment code. The society banned Asher last year, but because of the growth of the #MeToo movement, news of his removal has been publicly brought to light. SCBWI learned of the accusations through a comment thread on the School Library Journal about harassment in children’s publishing. Asher's name was frequently mentioned, as was award-winning illustrator David Diaz.
"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."
Asher is best known for his debut novel Thirteen Reasons Why and The Future of Us. The author told BuzzFeed News on Monday that he left the organization voluntarily and now feels “thrown under the bus.” "It's very scary when you know people are just not going to believe you once you open your mouth," he said. "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."
His debut novel tells the story of a high schooler who commits suicide, leaving behind 13 tapes that explain her decision. 13 Reasons Why (yes with the numeral this time) was picked up by Netflix and became a TV series that stirred up controversy for its depiction of suicide, but also garnered huge ratings. The second season of the show is set to come out sometime later this year.
Netflix has yet to release a statement on Asher, or comment on if these new allegations will have any effect on the future of the series.
Update 4:50 p.m. ET:
Jay Asher spoke to BuzzFeed News in response to the sexual harassment allegations against him. Asher claims he is being discredited because of affairs he previously had with other consenting adults. “I did have affairs with consenting adults, which ended years ago,” he said. “During the past decade of harassment related to these affairs, I have never once retaliated. I will continue to leave my accusers to their anonymity in order to save them and their families from further hurt."
Netflix responded to the allegations, stating that they would not have any effect on the upcoming season expected to come out later this year. “Jay Asher was not involved in the second season of 13 Reasons Why,” a spokesperson for Netflix told BuzzFeed News. “The upcoming season will not be impacted in any way.”