Horror Writers Association Bans CA Suleiman from StokerCon

Lisa Morton, President of the Horror Writers Association, announced that C.A. Suleiman has been permanently banned from its events, including the organization’s annual StokerCon.

HWA/StokerCon has recently been made aware of a number of incidents that occurred at our previous events involving C.A. Suleiman and female attendees. In accordance with its anti-harassment policy as stated here – http://stokercon2018.org/393-2/ – HWA’s Board of Trustees have permanently banned Mr. Suleiman from attending our future events. We encourage anyone who experiences or witnesses harassment by any person at any of our events to contact us via the above-mentioned web page. We are dedicated to making our StokerCons and other HWA-sponsored events safe and comfortable events for all attendees.

In a related development, Green Ronin Publishing has removed Suleiman from a project he was doing for them, according to a joint statement by Nicole Lindroos, Hal Mangold, and Chris Pramas.

Recently a contractor that we’ve been working with, CA Suleiman, was accused of sexual harassment. We were in the midst of an internal investigation and had decided nothing as yet when this was taken to the court of public opinion. There is a lot we could say about the events of the last few days and the recklessness with which people who have no connection to the incident or even the game industry have acted, and perhaps later we will, but here is the point. Green Ronin is a progressive company, full stop, and loudly so. One need look no further than our games or the causes we support through charitable giving to see that this is so. If someone brings allegations of sexual harassment to our doorstep, you’d better believe we take it seriously. In light of these accusations, we have made some decisions.

CA Suleiman has been working with us on a single project. The Lost Citadel was a Kickstarter we ran earlier this year and we will be publishing it, as we have an obligation to the backers. We will be assigning someone else to oversee the project moving ahead, however, and we will not be working with CA on any future projects.

As a point of clarification, CA was never in charge of the talent search for women and non-binary writers that we ran earlier this year. That was a company effort, spearheaded by co-owner Nicole Lindroos.

The announcement has its own critics, including Hillary Monahan in this Twitter thread:

That last tweet alludes to the publisher’s initial response when the controversy about Suleiman and his role with Green Ronin boiled up during in a discussion of RPG industry sexual harassment in the forums of RPG.net a week ago. At that time, GRP’s Nicole Lindroos wrote a 1200-word defense of Suleiman that concluded:

It is with the full force of that experience and with my very public history of working loudly and fiercely on behalf of women in the business that I have been and will continue to be vocal in my support of CA Suleiman. I do so deliberately and having given the subject the kind of thorough deliberation and research I usually reserve for presidential candidates. You can tell me you don’t like him, that you find him arrogant, ambitious, dismissive, that he’s “an insufferable dick” (as one woman put it to me), that he’s “difficult”. I have known and worked with the man and he has at times been all of those things but that doesn’t make him an abuser, a harasser, a predator, or a threat. He is not.

Yesterday, before the latest post by Green Ronin leadership, Jaym Gates, who manages Nisaba Press for Green Ronin Publishing, made a personal statement of her own about the situation in response to this tweet from Brian Keene:

Gates wrote on Facebook:

I am not an official GR spokesperson, so please remember that I am only speaking on my own behalf, and on the behalf of my role as a contractor for Green Ronin. An official statement is forthcoming there.

My current official statement is below. I am about to log in to a meeting, but I will answer as I can. Please feel free to share, or to come to me with questions. As stated below, I have spent YEARS trying to make this industry better, and I am trying to do my best here in a fast-moving and muddy situation.

***

The first I saw of this issue was on RPGNet, when accusations against Suleiman were made in an effort to deflect attention from a predator being outed in the discussion there. I had been called in to add information about my own harassment from John Morke, and so became privy to the conversation. Holden Shearer has a history of manufacturing claims against Suleiman, from accusing him of writing “noble terrorists” (in a story written by another author with no input from Suleiman, a particularly problematic assertion due to Suleiman being Arab American) to calling him a GamerGater after a Twitter interaction. These accusations seemed to be an attempt to distract those of us who were calling Holden out on his support and shielding of Morke, whom he describes as his best friend and someone he will protect. I am happy to provide those screenshots.

As I have known Suleiman for a while and we have had our differences professionally, I have held him to a high standard, and have seen vast growth and a desire to become a better human. At the time of my initial statement, that was all the information I had. I have not yet had anything but third-hand information regarding the new allegations, and so do not feel I can comment in a fair and honest way. I have spent nearly a decade on the front lines of the industry harassment issues, and am approaching this with all of that awareness and caution.

Additionally, regarding my professional responsibilities, as the editor of Nisaba Press, I handle all of the fiction for Green Ronin, with oversight and direction from the owners. I am the sole point of contact with my authors. As such, Nisaba is not directly relevant to the accusations or resolution, and my personal statements on the subject in no way influence my management of the line. Protection of my authors always has, and always will, come first. I think my track record speaks to that.

A woman who says Suleiman sexually harassed her at StokerCon related her experience in a comment on Gates’ statement.

3 thoughts on “Horror Writers Association Bans CA Suleiman from StokerCon

  1. There’s a lot to unpack here. I mean, watching this has been like Deja Vu to five years ago, including whisper networks about predators

    One difference is the relative strength of women in gaming is much weaker then in SF&F communities, and they’ve been subject to attacks from GamerGate-like groups for years. And unlike in SF&F, the venues for discussing the situation are much more limited. So a lot of the conversations on this are private.

    Also, Green Ronin is a perfect case of bad behavior from a company in dealing with harassment. And their involvement with Suleman looks really bad, given this contest.

    That’s right. Give a new woman writer a chance to be mentored by a serial harassed. This puts GR’s overheated response a different context.

    And this is just the tip of the iceberg. There’s a lot that hasn’t been said about serial harassment in gaming for years, and cracks are showing in the wall of silence. Over the last month there’s been at least five game developers accused of sexual harassment and assault. We’ve I expect to hear of more.

  2. A friend of mine commented that the rolegaming world seems about 5-10 years behind sf/f and horror in dealing with all of this, and that sounds about right to me.

    This and the other recent revelations in that world have been very hard on me. A lot of people I have known a long time are involved in various ways, some as targets, some as perpetrators, and some as defenders, critics, etc. I hate feeling like it’s time to break more ties, but I also hate feeling like I’m giving any cover to people doing awful things.

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