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Pixar co-founder and animator John Lasseter is permanently stepping down from the company, following sexual harassment allegations that surfaced back in November. Disney announced the decision on Friday, as Jezebel points out, but did not specify the reason for his departure.
In November, the Pixar CCO took a self-imposed sabbatical after alleged “missteps,” later reported by The Hollywood Reporter as unwanted behavior and harassment that included “grabbing, kissing, making comments about physical attributes” of women at the company. One employee at the time characterized his sabbatical as "ridiculous" and "trivializing this behavior."
"To sum this up as unwanted hugs is belittling and demeaning," the employee said. "If it was just unwanted hugs, he wouldn't be stepping down."
Lasseter is not only known for co-founding the iconic animation company, but directing movies like Toy Story and Toy Story 2, Cars and Cars 2, and A Bug’s Life. Lasseter has served as the chief creative officer of both Pixar and Disney Animation Studios since Disney bought Pixar in 2006.
The Los Angeles Times reported back in May that Disney was allegedly complicit in Lasseter's troubling behavior, writing “physical contact sometimes crossed the line and upper management worked diligently to protect the director from his own behavior.”
The news of Lasseter's permanent departure follows previous speculation that Lasseter might be returning to his position at Disney. Disney told the New York Times that Lasseter would be moving into a consulting role until the end of the year, before his permanent exit from the company. "While I remain dedicated to the art of animation and inspired by the creative talent at Pixar and Disney," Lasseter wrote in his own statement. "I have decided the end of this year is the right time to begin focusing on new creative challenges."