While sites like Anime News Network and Anime Feminists attempted to proclaim that fake sexual assault claims are infrequent and don’t happen, reality has recently been proving those assertions quite wrong. Following up on news that Anime News Network founder Justin Sevakis was falsely accused of sexual misconduct, Cosplayer Jessie Pridemore made a Facebook post on January 28th, 2019 outlining her experience with sexual abuse within the anime community. According to Pridemore, she was hanging out with a voice actor and had some drinks, blacked out and woke up in a hotel room after she alleges she was sexually assaulted.
In the Facebook post, she wrote…
“A voice actor (I’m not willing to name because I can’t be alone when I do this. He’s too powerful in the community) that I really admired and thought was cute was flirting with me. Used my divorce as an “in.” Him and another man kept feeding me drinks. Despite another voice actor kicking him in the leg to stop, he kept going. He inviting me up to his room to see his “Japanese candy collection.” I blacked out. I woke up half off his bed and undressed just from the waist down. I couldn’t even see who’s room I was in. I gathered my stuff and left horrified. After talking to a couple people, I pieced together what had happened that night. I was too young to understand what consent was in that situation and thought that he was truly interested in me. I’d give more details, but it would give his identity. So I went to the next convention he did. He spent the entire weekend treating me like garbage. When I finally opened up to my ex husband about what had happened, he told me I was raped. Even then I didn’t want to admit it. Over the years, I found there was more girls that it happened to. He started telling people I was obsessed with him and just mad he didn’t want to date me.”
While she didn’t name her alleged assailant in the post, she did begin to confirm who it was to people in private messages, and it eventually got back to anime voice actor, Todd Haberkorn, known for working on lots of animes and video games since 2007, namely The Legend of Korra, Dragon Ball Z, and Soul Eater to name just a few of the big projects he has been attached to over the years.
Haberkorn posted two separate posts on Facebook on January 31st, 2019. One post supposedly showed proof that Pridemore was talking about him, while the other post actually expounded on what happened at the event from his point of view, where he wrote…
“So, this buddy of mine, Adam [Sheehan], and I met up with this friend of his that he mentioned. We all hit it off and, like adults often do at a party, we had drinks. The woman at the time, was 24. I was 27. We both were adults who could vote, who could buy guns, who could enlist in the armed forces and be trained on how to kill people – and we certainly could decide if we wanted to drink alcohol or not. We both chose to have drinks as is very common when grown ups go out for an evening of partying.
“This woman I had just met expressed how much of a brother Adam was to her and I heard stories of how they met and their interactions. In turn, I shared my experiences with Adam. We all bonded over talking, laughter, and drinks. The conversation and hanging went on into the wee hours of the night. The attractive girl I had met and myself continued the flirting that had been going on between us for the majority of the evening. The flirting led back to my hotel room where we engaged in consensual, adult intimacy: sex.
“Due to the very late hour of the night (around 5 to 6am cause the sun was coming up), the long convention day, and drinks, both she and I passed out for some sleep. Sunday was another convention day and we both had appointments to keep – so, as much as it hurt to go without some good sleep – we had to get up and get to it. We left the hotel room together – she went her way and I went mine.”
Now according to Haberkorn, Pridemore wanted to hook up occasionally for casual sex, but in between chatting online infrequently, he realized that neither he nor Pridemore were in a good position to move forward in any sort of relationship.
In fact, Haberkorn goes the extra mile to post screen captures from a private chat that he and Pridemore had after their encounter at the hotel, where the two talk about the messy divorces they were coming out of. Pridemore mentions that she was $25,000 in debt, “90% medical” and “10% stupid decisions”.
In the leaked conversation, it’s actually Pridemore that continues to pursue Haberkorn, writing…
“Might be late, but can we finish this conversation over the phone. Just seems like a better idea?
“I’m not sure what it is you’ve done in your life to make you feel this way, but I really don’t think it’s something you should continue to beat yourself up about. Kids make stupid decisions. Especially without proper guidance. Adam told me you were a good guy and I value his opinion greatly. […]
“He would have never hooked me up with someone he thought otherwise about. He treats me like his little sister. He’s kicked Henry and Curtis in the balls for making me cry.”
Haberkorn goes on to say that he’s “damaged goods”, and that he’s under “construction”.
Pridemore also mentions that she’s also broken, saying…
“I’m as broken as they come. I don’t expect you to pick up the pieces. I really want to be towed with right now. Being 24 with a list of medical problems and barren doesn’t really make you the top of the prize pile.”
The conversation continues to go on, but Haberkorn continues to send signals about not committing to anything serious. In his Facebook post, Haberkorn reiterates that when the two of them ended up meeting up again in real life at a convention, Pridemore wanted to hook up for more casual sex but he declined.
He mentions that they were polite to one another when they met again but otherwise it was cordial and platonic.
Interestingly enough, Crunchyroll’s director of events, Adam Sheehan, offered a rebuttal to Haberkorn’s rebuttal.
I was surprised that Todd decided to use her post about surviving an assault to all but say “it was me” to the other part of Jessie’s story around the unnamed VA in this post. You were not called out by name so you thought that jumping in and saying it you was a good idea?
— Adam Sheehan (@neumaverick) January 31, 2019
Sheehan would go on to post a lengthy thread on Twitter coming to Pridemore’s aid and reproving Haberkorn for talking publicly about the event.
Across multiple tweets, Sheehan wrote…
“To include my name and not others who were there that evening who are not heavily involved in the anime industry still is a calculated move. To share screenshots of a private conversation without asking permission is a calculated move. I’ve known Todd for many years and like most people he’s a mix of good and bad. I’ve been friends with other VAs that we all thought were good guys and shocked to find out they were very much not that after all [links to article about Scott Freeman convicted of possessing child pornography].
“When I saw this response I was angry and sad for a variety of reasons. Someone I thought overall was a good guy dragging me and a close friend, who is going through hell right now, into a targeted response to something that did not focus on them. I’ve seen this before sadly. I was less angry that I was being brought into this and a whole lot angry that Todd decided this was the best time to do this. The mention at the end of his post about him being sensitive to anyone who has experienced abuse THAT INCLUDED A HASHTAG ABOUT HIMSELF?!?
“Generally you don’t jump in front of something like this unless you’re feeling really guilty and/or panicky. Which he was when he started texting me and others when this story first posted. Since Todd is cool with sharing private communications without asking permission, here: [links to DM conversation].
“I do want to add more information around the night in question Todd mentioned. The assault is not my story to tell since I wasn’t there so I can not add to that. I can talk to things leading up to it since I was there though.
“Todd, Jessie, myself and a few others were hanging out in a convention hospitality suite that night. We decided to have some drinks. We ended up having a lot of drinks. Jessie was repeatedly given more to drinks, again and again.
“Someone should have stopped people from giving her drinks. Someone should have stopped her leaving with Todd later that night to go back to his room because she was clearly past the point of making any clear decisions any more. That someone should have been me and a few others. Yes Jessie is a grown up but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t have helped her. We were all ‘just having a good time’ and I thought that it was fine and blah, blah, blah. It doesn’t matter the excuse, I didn’t help. I was a bad friend that night.
“I’m talking about this not out of loyalty. I’ve known both of them for many years now. Todd taught my daughter theater, Jessie was the photographer at my wedding. This is about Todd jumping on Jessie’s very brave post about Vic when he wasn’t named in it to save his own skin.
“If Todd is “incredibly sensitive to anyone’s experiences w/abuse” why would he put this out in the middle of the hell Jessie is going through right now for speaking up? Why didn’t he focus this moment to speak up about Vic or other abusers or abuse he has been through?
“If he really wanted to be part of the solution or support victims of abuse he would stand by them instead of trying to take one down that went out of her way to not mention him. He has a big fan base so why not help instead of attack. This boggles my mind.”
Sheehan proceeds to round out his rant with a link to more private messages between him and Haberkorn, along with a tweet saying that people should believe survivors.
I know Todd is not a Vic fan so this could have been moment to step up and publicly address things he’s seen. But he did not. Instead he went after Jessie. Easy target: already being attacked online, has screenshots of private conversations, it happened a while ago. pic.twitter.com/1iDCSltWVy
— Adam Sheehan (@neumaverick) January 31, 2019
Anyone who knows me knows I don’t do this sort of thing. Talking with Jessie I was privately and closely supporting her through all this stuff with Vic. That was the plan. Until Todd did this. And I couldn’t keep quiet anymore. #BelieveSurvivors #HaberWTF
— Adam Sheehan (@neumaverick) January 31, 2019
This also netted a response from Pridemore, who proclaimed on Twitter that there’s more to the story than what she told, but she wasn’t sure if she was going to add more due to receiving “rape” and “death” threats.
I don’t know if I’m going to add more, too be completely honest. I’ve had enough rape and death threats for the day and I don’t want to be in an endless loop with him forever. I was not conscious and therefore could not consent.
— Jessie Pridemore (@jessiepridemore) January 31, 2019
While she claims that she was not conscious and could not consent, the question becomes: why suggest more casual sex with someone and attempt to engage in a relationship?
Some of the Twitter users attempted to justify Pridemore’s pursuit to attach herself to Haberkorn by saying that those who are assaulted try to gain the affection of their assaulter, and use it as a means of absolving the guilt and shame of the act. However, if this was as serious as it was, one would have to question why she didn’t confront Haberkorn about it earlier… in private?
Either way, this is just more fuel for the fire that’s brewing in the anime voice actor community, after various Tumblr users and Twitter addicts have been hanging around the hashtag #KickVic where certain members of the community are trying to get Vic Mignogna booted out of the voice acting business.
(Thanks for the news tip Nemesis)