Ex-Naughty Dog Employee Alleges Sexual Harassment, Studio Issues Statement

The former employee said he was fired for speaking up, but Naughty Dog says it has no record of any harassment allegations.

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Oct 16 2017, 4:14pm

Image courtesy of Sony

On Saturday, former Naughty Dog environmental artist David Ballard used Twitter to allege he was "sexually harassed at Naughty Dog by a lead [developer]," in late 2015, which prompted his job to become "extremely toxic." Following an apparent mental breakdown, Ballard said he told Sony and Naughty Dog about the sexual harassment, and was quickly fired and offered $20,000 to keep silent. In a statement yesterday, Naughty Dog said it had not "found any evidence of having received allegations from Mr. Ballard that he was harassed in any way at Naughty Dog or Sony Interactive Entertainment." (Naughty Dog is owned by Sony.)

Ballard said he's been unemployed in the 17 months since the harassment took place.

"When interviewers ask why I left Naughty Dog," he said. "I say I was burned out by the crunch, ashamed to get to the root of the problem of being sexually harassed."

As for his decision to come forward now, Ballard said he felt empowered by the stories out of Hollywood, following the outing of producer Harvey Weinstein as a serial harasser and abuser.

"I'm speaking out now because of the strength I've seen in others coming forward about their experiences in the TV/Film industry," he said. "This is the hardest thing I've ever done. I will not let anyone kill my drive or love for the video game industry, my passions or life."

Citing a desire for a "safe, productive workplace environment that allows us all to channel our shared passion for making games," Naughty Dog's response hardly seemed like an lengthy investigation into the accusations, which would have taken more than a weekend to properly vet. Whether a full investigation will take place is unclear.

"We have recently read on social media that an ex-employee of Naughty Dog, Dave Ballard, claims he was sexually harassed when he worked at Naughty Dog. We have not found any evidence of having received allegations from Mr. Ballard that he was harassed in any way at Naughty Dog or Sony Interactive Entertainment. Harassment and inappropriate conduct have no place at Naughty Dog and Sony Interactive Entertainment. We have taken and always will take reports of sexual harassment and other workplace grievances very seriously. We value every single person who works at Naughty Dog and Sony interactive Entertainment. It is of utmost importance to us that we maintain a safe, productive workplace environment that allows us all to channel our shared passion for making games."

Neil Druckmann, writer and director of Uncharted 4 and the upcoming The Last of Us Part II, called it "an important statement." Druckmann has yet to make any other public comments.

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