Writer Warren Ellis has released a statement regarding the many accusations of sexual misconduct that have been leveled against him this week. Spurred by accounts of the misconduct by artist Cameron Stewart, many women have come forward to accuse Ellis of predatory behavior and using his status as a much admired writer to coerce them into relationships — only to abruptly end contact.
The allegations started when publisher/photographer Katie West described his behavior in a now-deleted Twitter thread. However, she summed it up with a few tweets:
I deleted that thread. I don’t want this to ruin my life, and I don’t want it to ruin anyone else’s. This is not about one person. The people who are making it that way are missing the point. This is about a pattern of behaviour and our collective complicity in that behaviour.
Yesterday I posted about men abusing their power in the comics industry to groom, emotionally manipulate, have sex with, or serially Bluebeard young women. My intention was to protect young women from being harmed by these types of men in the future. Brian Wood has since reached out to me to apologise and acknowledge his past behaviour. He’s proven growth and reconciliation are possible. We have had a really good conversation and I believe Brian is listening and learning and taking responsibility for his actions in the past.I’m currently listening to 35+ women tell me of their experiences with Warren Ellis. And that number keeps growing. If you have something you want to talk about you can reach out to me or Jhayne @Foxtongue
Other Ellis associates, including musician Meredith Yayanos and artist Zoetica Ebb, also spoke out about past misconduct. Yayanos wrote:
I met Warren when I was 22 [later amended to 23-24] years old. We were very close, for many years. I severed all ties with him at least 5 years ago. With good reason. My former friend is a complicated man. He is lovable. He is capable of immense generosity and kindness. Also, he’s a fucking Bluebeard. Figuring that out is what finally moved me to cut Warren out of my life. So many stories, from so many young women, most of which were worse than my own. I believe them. I care about them and their lives and safety far more than Warren’s. So. I stand by Katie West.
I have fuckall to say to the women who are, as I type this, actively defending a serially exploitative and emotionally abusive straight cis white dude with a long history of grooming, coercing, collecting, and using young women. Blocked ’em ages ago. They know EXACTLY why.
Some of you are here because of Warren. Because of this, and the fact that I appear in the documentary about him, I’m implored to confirm that, yes, it’s all true. And yes, it happened to me, too. And yes, he has done a lot of good, but the systems? They have to burn. Another thing about Warren Ellis: this is not about him. The #MeToo movement is, among other feats, shining the light of accountability at the murky spaces between the cut-and-dry criminal cases, where predators once felt safe. This is a conversation about the scope of consent.An argument I keep seeing: this is about “consenting adults”. No. None of us consented to being manipulated, or to becoming a disposable part of a remote stable. You can not give consent if you don’t have the entire picture.
Writer Jhayne Holmes has been collecting accounts from other victims and, in a tweet, said she now has more than 50 women who have evidence of Ellis coercing and grooming them.
The private group now has nearly 50 members. Please, if you know of anyone who might have been targeted by @warrenellis, send them our way. This is so much bigger than you might guess.
— Jhayne Holmes (@Foxtongue) June 18, 2020
Amid the growing outrage, Ellis has finally released a statement via Twitter and his newsletter:
Hello. Please forgive the lateness of my appearance. I have been speaking to people, and listening carefully, for a few days.
Recent statements have been made about me that need to be addressed.
I have never considered myself famous or powerful, to the point where I’ve made a lot of bad jokes about it for twenty-odd years. It had never really occurred to me that other people didn’t see it the same way—that I was not engaging as an equal when gifted with attention, but acting from a position of power and privilege. I did not take that into account in a number of my personal interactions and this was a mistake and I own it.
While I’ve made many bad choices in my past, and I’ve said a lot of wrong things, let me be clear, I have never consciously coerced, manipulated, or abused anyone, nor have I ever assaulted anybody. But I was ignorant of where I was operating from at a time I should have been clear and for that I accept 100% responsibility.
I hurt people deeply. I am ashamed for these mistakes and I am profoundly sorry. I will not speak against other people’s personal truths, and I will not expose them to the toxicity of the current discourse. I should have been more aware, more present, and more respectful of people’s feelings and for that I apologise.
I have had friendships and relationships end, sometimes in bitterness, often due to my own failings, and I continue to regret and apologise for the pain I have caused.
I have always tried to aid and support women in their lives and careers, but I have hurt many people that I had no intention of hurting. I am culpable. I take responsibility for my mistakes. I will do better and for that, I apologise.
I apologise to my friends and collaborators for having created this situation, and I hope they will be treated kindly. Mistakes and poor choices in my personal life are not on them, but only on me.
We have a responsibility to one another, every day. And I have, in my past, let too many people down. I hope to one day become worthy of the trust and kindness that was placed in me by colleagues and friends.
I will continue to listen, learn, and strive to be a better human being. I have sought to make amends with people, as I have been made aware of my transgressions, and will continue to do so. I have apologised, I apologise, and will continue to apologise and take total responsibility for my actions without equivocation.
I am going to be quiet now, to listen more than I speak, for other voices matter far more than my own right now.
I will be closing this newsletter. Thank you for your past support. Look after yourselves.
Many observers will — and already do — feel Ellis’s belief that “I have never considered myself famous or powerful” is particularly hard to swallow, given his status as one of the most influential comics writers of the century. And as more accounts of his predatory behavior — complete with receipts — are poised to come out, that status is likely to be completely revised.
If you are a U.S.-based victim of sexual assault in need of help, contact RAINN at 800-656-4673 to be connected with a trained staff member from a sexual assault service provider in your area.