US-based author Sherman Alexie has apologised following anonymous accusations of sexual harassment against him.
Earlier this year, numerous commenters on a School Library Journal article about sexual harassment in children’s publishing accused Alexie of sexual misconduct, as well as bestselling children's authors including Jay Asher and James Dashner. Both Asher and Dashner have since been dropped by their agents, and Dashner's UK publishers Chicken House and Sweet Cherry Publishing have cut ties with him.
Yesterday (28th February) Alexie issued a statement addressing the accusations of sexual harassment against him for the first time.
“Over the years, I have done things that have harmed other people, including those I love most deeply. To those whom I have hurt, I genuinely apologise. I am so sorry", said Alexie. “There are women telling the truth about my behavior and I have no recollection of physically or verbally threatening anybody or their careers. That would be completely out of character. I have made poor decisions and I am working hard to become a healthier man who makes healthier decisions. I am genuinely sorry.”
Figures in the writing community have publically addressed the allegations. The American Library Association (ALA), which last month awarded Alexie its Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Non Fiction, has said it had “recently learned of these concerning allegations against Sherman Alexie" and will be "evaluating [its] next steps as more information becomes available".
Debbie Reese, a former professor of American Indian Studies at University of Illinois and editor of American Indians in Children's Literature, said she would be removing Alexie's photograph from AICL's gallery of Native writers and illustrators and planned to edit "any page that has referenced Alexie or his work." She added: "[I] can no longer let his work sit on AICL without noting that he has hurt other Native writers in overt and subtle ways, including abuse, threats, and humiliation."
Meanwhile, author Litsa Dremousis has also publicly condemned Alexie. She wrote on Twitter that she’d “known about the allegations against Sherman Alexie for months now” and that “by my count, there are now over 20 women who are accusing him of harassment.”
However, In his statement Alexie said he rejected “the accusations, insinuations, and outright falsehoods” made by Dremousis, who “has led charges against me,” he said.
Alexie said he and Dremousis had a sexual relationship that ended in 2015, but that she has continued to attend most of his public events since then. He also said that Dremousis sent an email to Alexie’s wife in October, “in which she informed her of our past sexual relationship” and later “posted something on my wife’s Facebook page that frightened my wife.
“Since then, Ms. Dremousis has continually tweeted and spoken in public about my behavior, making accusations based on rumors and hearsay and quoting anonymous sources,” he said in his statement.
Alexie is the author of works including The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian (Andersen Press) and Reservation Blues (Vintage).
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