After ANN Claimed False Rape Allegations Were An ‘Imaginary Boogeyman’, ANN Founder Gets Falsely Accused Of Being Sex Offender
ANN Accused

Anime News Network founder and Answerman contributor, Justin Sevakis, was recently accused of being a sex offender. In a Twitter post that was published on January 17th, 2019, Sevakis details the accusation against him, and how he had to go through the process to get his name removed from a public list of sexual offenders within the anime community.

He wrote…

“Yesterday I found my name posted to a public list of accused sex offenders in the anime community. It was misspelled, but it was clearly me, and despite being in the company of accused rapists, statutory rapists and sex offenders, the charge leveled against me is comparatively benign: “escalated an online conflict by stalking the target and using triangulation to discredit her to her real-life, non-fandom acquaintances.”

 

“I know exactly who posted this. Her name is Emma Bowers, and this is the latest in a years-long campaign of targeted harassment she has waged against me, and eventually other members of the Anime News Network crerw, most of whom were once her friends. And unforutnately, she’s savvy enough on Twitter to have a sizable following. She subtweets me, levels her bizarre accusations at my clients and co-workers, and tries to spread rumors (most of which are not believable by anyone that knows me even a little).”

The list that Sevakis is referring to is operated by “The Moderator”, and they take in any and all accusations and then judge whether or not to add those accusations to a public spreadsheet listing where the offender and their alleged crime is listed.

Sevakis managed to get wrapped up in the list after Bowers made the claims against him. Sevakis mentioned in his tweets…

“Thankfully, the owner of the list of bad people in anime fandom removed my name after Bamboo came to my defense. I assume that list was made with noble intentions, but there’s a reason journalists have to have multiple sources and some sort of proof before publishing accusations. The problem with creeps and dangerous people in anime fandom is one we’ve known about for decades, and I’m happy people are finally starting to do something about it. I just don’t think an accusation free-for-all site is a good solution. It practically invites abuse.”

The irony of this is almost too much to bear, mainly because some of the Anime News Network’s staff absolutely dismissed the seriousness of false rape allegations, and even gave the anime The Rising of the Shield Hero a negative rating because the show dealt with the hero’s life being ruined due to a false rape accusation. Reviewer James Beckett was even emboldened enough to write…

“Every trick in the book is employed to frame Myne as an exaggeration of the duplicitous, promiscuous harpy that uses her beauty to lure men to their doom, and Naofumi is the innocent everyman who’s punished for being too trusting, thus justifying the hatred and misanthropy that follows him. It’s not just a cliché, it’s a fantasy of persecution that’s frequently propagated by men in order to justify mistreatment and mistrust of women. It would be foolish to say that no person has ever falsely accused another of assault, but the fact is that society more often does not take allegations of assault seriously and often punishes victims for speaking up about it. The situation is so bad that the majority of victims choose not to report sexual violence, because it is assumed that they will be ignored or harassed further. This is why Rising of the Shield Hero’s treatment of this subject matter deserves to be discussed. The idea that men are aggrieved victims of some matriarchal conspiracy is not only an imaginary boogeyman, it’s something that has caused real harm in the world outside this work of fiction.”

So does that mean that Beckett believes the founder of the website he’s writing for created an imaginary boogeyman and that the false accusation leveled at Sevakis was just a “matriarchal conspiracy”?

This situation does nothing more than make the virtue signaling of Anime News Network look like they’ve ended up with a lot of egg on their face after attempting to undermine The Rising of the Shield Hero for a controversial topic that literally affected the very founder of the site that they were using in which to virtue signal their offense about said topic.

Even the wildest form of fiction doesn’t seem to match up to the hilarity that reality writes.

But worse yet is that there are still people looking to turn this kind of dangerous guilty-until-proven innocent accusation-culture into a situation where the false accusers are still somehow the victim.

In a Kotaku piece published on January 18th, 2019, they captured a quote from Cosplay Survivor’s Support Network’s editor-in-chief, Trickssi, who both criticized the public spreadsheet and also attempted to absolve the victims of any wrongdoing, writing…

“That spreadsheet is not a good solution. It was intended to help, and those intentions were good, but it continues to be a bandaid. . . . Such a spreadsheet also implies that it’s the victims’ responsibility to look over the list and have knowledge of who the predators are, and if the victim doesn’t know, that it’s their fault for not knowing. That’s known as victim blaming and it’s a part of the greater rape culture that exists thoroughly within the cosplay/convention/’nerd’ community. It also comes up in the form of, ‘Well, if you didn’t want to get harassed, why did you wear that costume?’”

I’m sure Justin Sevakis is glad to finally have those years of harassment and false accusations put behind him, but one could only question what would have happened if Anime News Network was negatively impacted by the false charge against Sevakis had it escalated any further? If the site closed down in result of that false charge, would they still hold the same views they held when reviewing The Rising of the Shield Hero? And would they still adopt the “listen and believe” philosophy even if it meant losing the platform that was used for their proselytizing?

I suppose we’ll never know given that Sevakis was cleared of the false accusation and things are back to normal, but the issue will go down in the history of petty internet dramas as a clear example of an outlet’s sociopolitical stance coming back to bite them in a bad way.

[Update:] A reader pointed us to a thread over on Reddit where reviewer James Beckett attempted to clarify his stance on rape allegations and his criticism of Rising of the Shield Hero (albeit this was before Sevakis had the false charge leveled against him), writing…

“I would like to reiterate that the inclusion of the rape-accusation in the plot is not in and of itself the core issue I have with this premiere’s script and presentations -the issue lies within the framing. Myne’s betrayal falls neatly into many of the same cliches and lazy tropes that have been fueling genuinely misogynist, harmful rhetoric for years. I specifically have problems with how Shield Hero presents these lame story beats with seemingly zero self-awareness, or any consideration with how such reductive characterization could be read and absorbed by its audience in 2018. And for those of you clamoring about my trying to assert my “Western values” on a Japanese work, the blog entry here quotes articles that highlight how Japanese culture has a huge issue with supporting women who are victims of assault, and how badly those archaic perspectives need to change.

 

“Of course, there are women who have falsely accused others of assault. One of my close friends was, in fact, a victim of this in high school. It completely upended his life, and was a terrible, traumatizing experience. However, I know that even he would know that there are certain considerations that go into the creation of any pop-culture that addresses such delicate, longstanding issues. When a big-budget anime aiming for a mass audience that is almost certainly presumed to be straight males, I believe there is harm to be done in normalizing those old fears of the “slutty, deceptive bitch that is out to screw over all the nice guys (who totally want to fuck her, but are nice, so they actually deserve it).” I believe it teaches men and women alike that this is something to fear, something that men should all be on the lookout for, and that any woman who genuinely needs to report an assault could potentially be lumped into this category.”

(Thanks for the news tip Ebicentre)

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Billy has been rustling Jimmies for years covering video games, technology and digital trends within the electronics entertainment space. The GJP cried and their tears became his milkshake. Need to get in touch? Try the Contact Page.

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