James Dashner, author of the Maze Runner series, has been been dropped by his literary agent, according to the Associated Press, amid anonymous allegations of sexual harassment. Dashner's agent, Michael W. Bourret, confirmed the report in a statement on Wednesday that read, in part, that "under the circumstances" he could no longer represent the YA author.
"I couldn't in good conscience continue working with James, and I let him go yesterday," Bourret said. Bustle has reached out to Mr. Bourret for additional comment.
Allegations against Dashner were initially made in the comments section of an article posted by the School Library Journal, entitled "Children’s Publishing Reckons with Sexual Harassment in Its Ranks." The article detailed harassment allegations leveled by actress Charlene Yi against children's book illustrator David Diaz. Initially published on Jan. 3, the article quickly began accumulating hundreds of comments, including those from both former and current members of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI), at whose conference Yi's harassment reportedly took place.
Predictably, the situation quickly became swamped with arguments over the larger #MeToo movement - one commenter implied that only physical assault warranted attention, while others urged their peers to remember that liking someone as a friend doesn't automatically render them innocent.
As has been true with similar situations in which high profile creators have been implicated, vagueness and anonymity on behalf of the accusers is castigated. Calls for names and details are bound to surface. And when they inevitably do, additional scrutiny is called for.
Over a month after the School Library Journal article was originally published, several commenters began referencing a Feb. 7 Medium article by Anne Ursu, which discussed an anonymous survey she had created to track sexual harassment and abuse in children's publishing. Ursu says she received nearly 90 responses regarding sexual harassment in children's book publishing, as well as additional emails and DMs "from people who didn’t want to fill out the survey because they felt too ashamed, or were still frightened of reprisal."
"After the Medium essay by Anne Ursu, people want us to name names. They want to know 'who,'" wrote "Anon Victim" on Feb. 10 in the comments section of the School Library Journal piece. "I will say the name from my story: Jay Asher. Happy , now?"
This accusation was quickly followed a second comment, from "Third Anon Victim": "I was also in Anne’s survey, and the name in mine is James Dashner."
Ms. Ursu declined to comment on this specific case.
In the hours and days that followed, a number of other accusers stepped forward, agreeing with the allegations against both Jay Asher, author of Thirteen Reasons Why, and Dashner. A number of others offered their thanks and support. Still more called for verification, for proof beyond an unnamed comment.
It's been five days. Jay Asher and David Diaz have both reportedly been removed from the SCBWI. Asher was dropped by his own agent, the Andrea Brown Literary Agency, and has since obtained a lawyer to fight what he maintains are false allegations. Dashner has also continued to deny any allegations.
The SCBWI has announced they'll be rolling out a new harassment policy. None of the commenters on the thread have been identified or their accounts verified.
Bustle has reached out to Mr. Dashner's publisher, Random House Kids, for comment. Earlier today, he posted the following message on his Twitter page:
Dashner's message, that he never saw himself as part of the problem until now, that he never intentionally hurt his accusers, points to a larger issue in the ways we consider and define sexual harassment, especially in industries where success is measured in fame and power. You can cause harm to someone without it ever becoming violent, or even physical.