Home Main Cuesta alumni and author Jay Asher accused of sexual harassment

Cuesta alumni and author Jay Asher accused of sexual harassment


San Luis Obispo author Jay Asher watches a scene being shot on the set of Netflix series  “13 Reasons Why,” based on his best-selling book. The show is currently filming its second season.
Photo courtesy of Netflix

Lindsay Darbyshire
News Editor

The author of the best-selling novel “13 Reasons Why,” who is also a Cuesta alum, has reportedly denied the allegations of sexual harassment recently made against him, and has apparently been banned from two prominent literary organizations as a result of the accusations.

In his defense, a spokesperson for Jay Asher said that the allegations were the result of extramarital affairs gone sour.

Asher apparently entered romantic relationships with women while he was married, which “ended with some hurt feelings when they learned about each other,” said spokesperson Tamara Taylor.

Asher, who graduated from Cuesta in 1996, came to the college with hopes of becoming an elementary school teacher. He transferred to Cal Poly, but did not graduate because he instead began working on writing novels.

In response to the sexual harassment accusations, both the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators and the Andrea Brown Literary Agency have reportedly severed ties with Asher.

However, Asher still claims to be an active member of the SCBWI.

Asher, whose wildly popular novel “13 Reasons Why” was adapted into a Netflix original series last year, reportedly still holds an active membership with the SCBWI, according to Taylor.

“In April 2017, Mr. Asher voluntarily agreed that he would no longer attend SCBWI conferences,” Taylor said. “Mr. Asher was not banned by the SCBWI.”

“In fact,” Taylor said, “when he let his membership in the group lapse last summer, Lin Oliver, the group’s executive director, suggested that he keep his membership going. He did as requested, and Mr. Asher’s membership is active today.”

However, Oliver released a statement to the Associated Press claiming that, once an investigation of anonymous claims was performed, Asher was dismissed from the SCBWI altogether for having “violated the SCBWI code of conduct in regard to harassment.”

“It’s very scary when you know people are just not going to believe you once you open your mouth,” Asher told Buzzfeed News. “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.”

The ABLA is also said to have parted ways with Asher, according to a statement made by the agency via the Twitter account of Sarah Littman, a novelist represented by the agency.

“All of the agents at ABLA support the important national conversation that is happening about sexual harassment and bullying and we fully believe that all creators should have a safe place to work professionally,” the ABLA said. “We have counseled Jay [Asher] to take a step back from the industry and he’s doing so. He is no longer working with the agency.”

The second season of “13 Reasons Why,” which is currently under production, is reported to be unaffected by the allegations, according to a Vanity Fair.

“The false statements to the news media have resulted in inaccurate and hurtful news coverage, which is threatening Mr. Asher’s livelihood,” Taylor said. “Mr. Asher has retained legal counsel and is demanding SCBWI and Lin Oliver promptly retract the false and defamatory statements they made.”