Home Publishers DC Five more women accuse Berganza of sexual harassment

Five more women accuse Berganza of sexual harassment

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The Buzzfeed reporter team is back with allegations from five more women of harassment they suffered from former DC editor Eddie Berganza, with incidents going back to 2006. Is anyone surprised by this any more? I knew details of Berganza’s harassment within DC, but not among freelancers at large.

But now five more women have told BuzzFeed News about their own experiences with Berganza. One says he forcibly kissed her, something he’d previously been accused of doing to a different woman in the 2010 complaint, and to the other one in 2012. Others now coming forward allege inappropriate touching, and one says Berganza told her she was “too pretty” to be interesting. If DC Comics had acted earlier to rein Berganza in, the women say, they might have been spared harassment and felt more comfortable pursuing careers at major comic publishers.

It’s all bad but this bit speaks for itself:

Jami Bernard was leaving her gig as film critic at the New York Daily News in the mid-2000s and considering getting into writing comics. Already the author of 10 books, Bernard had ideas for graphic novels and started talking to Berganza about writing a multi-issue Lois Lane story. But Berganza began to make some unusual comments to Bernard. In one email Berganza wrote her, providing feedback on a proposal for a script, he concluded the message with: “Big kiss. Hope you’re warm. Had a naughty dream about you. Tee hee.”

First off the idea of even writing that in an email to a freelancer, to someone you are working with, to someone coming into the industry who you are, essentially, mentoring…what the actual fuck? As a former editor…I’m just appalled and disgusted.

And then. “Tee hee.” That’s the culture we’re dealing with here.

Liz Marsham, whose honesty in going on the record with her own experience is perhaps what broke the dam on this, tweeted a follow-up today:

 

And one more to think about:

Bernard now runs her own business as a media consultant, but “for years,” she said, “I felt bad about myself — why didn’t I pursue that opportunity? Why did I walk away? What did I do that turned him on so much?” It was only after reading the BuzzFeed News account of other women sharing similar experiences with Berganza that Bernard realized his behavior was not her fault.

14 COMMENTS

  1. “I honestly don’t understand how any of the people in charge still have jobs there.”

    Has it been proven that Berganza’s bosses knew what he was doing and encouraged him, or tried to cover it up? If not, they shouldn’t be fired.

    I’ve read that Berganza stayed employed as long as he did because of his ability to consistently meet deadlines (a trait not shared by all DC editors). But at some point, making the trains run on time doesn’t excuse everything.

  2. “Has it been proven that Berganza’s bosses knew what he was doing and encouraged him, or tried to cover it up? If not, they shouldn’t be fired.”

    Read the original BuzzFeed article, with the conversation between one of the women and Bob Harras, who was Eddie’s boss. Berganza’s bosses knew of his problems, and chose to keep him on high-profile projects.

  3. Hardly surprising in an industry that has no problem with its staff threatening people with a baseball bat based in nothing more than their sexuality, yeah thats you Heather Antos

  4. I’m familiar with Jami Bernard from her days as a movie critic. Eddie sent her a message saying: “Big kiss. Hope you’re warm. Had a naughty dream about you. Tee hee.”

    From the article:

    And according to one former DC employee, Berganza was “the guy everyone wanted to hang out with. All the dudes worshipped him, especially if you were a comic book nerd. Even among the dudes I knew who were nice, sweet, upstanding guys, he was the nerd king.”

    Comic book nerds need to find better role models.

  5. Keep in mind that the HR departments at most businesses exist to protect management from the people below them. Complaining to HR about anything is likely to get you branded a “malcontent” or “troublemaker.” You’ll soon be made to feel unwelcome, and your next evaluation is likely to be very poor (and insulting).

    Which may help explain why this crap went on for so long.

  6. I say again that freelancers are not covered by sexual harassment rules in most states. California is the only one I can name that does cover freelancers. Companies are also liable for incidents that happen on the premises.

    1. McIsaac–DC not in California yet, offsite, can pass for flirtation. If you don’t want your feet rubbed by a creep, pull them away. Implication of job offer for sex is purely her point of view and assumption.

    2. Business office woman–invited back to her home, can pass for flirtation, “lurk”ing is open to interpretation and isn’t proof of harassment even though it’s happening on site.

    3. Bernard–DC not in California yet for creepy email and off site dinner and “walk outside”, both in person incidents can pass for flirtation as they feature trappings of being on a date (dinner, evening stroll).

    4. 2014– “far too pretty”…really? THIS is a stretch. It has no place in an article about sexual harassment. It damages the argument because it doesn’t apply. It’s a stupid thing to tell someone that is based purely on stereotype, but it’s not even remotely related to the other incidents. In fact, he probably thought it was a compliment when he said it. It’s like giving Steve Martin shit for what he said about HIS FRIEND Carrie Fisher. Grow up, people.

    5. Chu–Can be quoted as having no incidents with Berganza during her time being edited by him. Her inclusion is only based on how she felt about him based on reputation. Nobody likes working with/for someone they have a personal objection to, but this shouldn’t be grouped in with the others. Buzzfeed has to throw everything at the wall to craft a narrative though.

    6. Nord–New Year’s Eve party, off site, can pass for flirtation. The comment about the drawings being “a little thick” is accurate and on topic for someone trying to get work making drawings. It’s called a critique for a reason. Also it’s put into the article for dramatic effect without being pertinent to the main topic.

    This journalism is so irresponsible I don’t think it can be called journalism anymore.

    I know this will fall on deaf ears, but I’m going to put it here for proof that I said it. I do not approve of his behavior. I believe that I always wait for a lady to break the touch barrier, and I phrase it that way because I don’t have a perfect memory…nobody does. Even after the touch barrier has been broken, I typically don’t venture into touching what can be classified as “sensitive areas” unless given explicit permission. I have difficulty understanding people (including women) who are so forward as to do so. Thankfully I don’t have a job where socializing is a major part of getting and keeping employment, but it’s not surprising that those jobs are where this recent wave of sexual impropriety is coming from. Misunderstandings happen, words and actions get misinterpreted, and lines get crossed. It will continue to be that way unless the socialization aspect is removed from the equation.

    That being said, I think Berganza was a bit of a creep if only for the Bernard email where he mentions having a naughty dream about her apropos of nothing. That’s one thing that can’t be misinterpreted and has no place in business correspondence without any required sexual harassment protections for freelancers.

    And I still don’t think he should have been fired for any of this being publicized. I have yet to see any comment from DC as to what exactly he was fired FOR which leads me to believe he was fired for bad press. I still call bullshit on that.

  7. Here’s the thing about comics publishers, tech start ups, small business: they are staffed by people who have no formal training for the roles they have assumed. At the comics houses, the person “in charge” of HR does not have the foundation for the job. All or at least most hires are friends. This is not a defense of these shops, it’s context for how this all happens.

    None of it is excusable.

    We are also in a moment where there’s going to be some collateral damage, that’s to be expected and for the guys who are not sure if they have crossed any lines, it’s time to think long and hard about those office relationships past and present.

    For the guys who have crossed the line, it doesnt matter if it was 20 years ago or last week, it’s still wrong and there’s no rationalizing what you have done.

    Learn from what you have done, make amends(if at all possible) and stop being assholes.

  8. John S.:

    DC has existed since 1935, and Marvel since 1939. These companies are institutions. They are not startups run by a bunch of just-out-of-college friends.

    There is no legitimate excuse for DC and Marvel not to have competent HR departments and to not be run like professional businesses. They’re had 8 decades to grow up.

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