Thirteen Reasons Why became a household name after last year’s show took the world by storm. But before it was a Netflix original series, it was a Young Adult book that also received a lot of attention for how it handled suicide, bullying, and sexual assault and harassment. Perhaps that’s why it’s such a shock to see the author, Jay Asher, being accused of sexual harassment.
Asher was expelled from the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators last year after sexual harassment allegations unsurfaced in an anonymous email. The organization investigated the allegations and confronted Asher, who claimed he then left on his own accord.
“It’s very scary when you know people are just not going to believe you once you open your mouth,” Asher told BuzzFeed News, who uncovered the story. “I feel very conflicted about it just because of what’s going on in the culture and who’s supposed to be believed and who’s not.”
Though Asher was removed from the society a year ago, it came to light this past Sunday in the comments section of a School Library Journal article titled “Children’s Publishing Reckons With Sexual Harassment in Its Ranks.” While the article doesn’t name names, commenters began coming forward anonymously to name their own harassers within the industry. And one of the names that appeared frequently? Jay Asher.
If the allegations are true, it’s certainly haunting. This is the man who has capitalized off women and their experiences with sexual harassment and assault — and who has even written about the tragic, heartbreaking consequences that can come along with it. He’s crafted a narrative young women everywhere feel they can relate to — it feels like a betrayal that he could be one of the dangers girls are taught to look out for.