A co-founder of one of Australasia’s most prominent esports organisations has resigned in the wake of allegations of sexual harassment and grooming, a maelstrom that has left the industry reeling.

Jared ‘Topix’ Fell resigned publicly on April 12 as co-founder of Oddity Esports, a shock decision that caught many in the community off-guard. Serious allegations of sexual misconduct and grooming emerged immediately following his resignation.

A member of Team Dignitas in action during the CS:GO World Finals in February.

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A member of Team Dignitas in action during the CS:GO World Finals in February.

The allegations detailed how he took advantage of aspiring Wellington female streamer Ellie ‘EllieRoo’ Hall, 23, who was attempting to grow her viewership online.

They state how he would offer her access to his network and community status with the expectation of sexually-explicit images in return.

Hall said he would steer the conversation towards topics of a sexual nature, and repeatedly attempt to solicit her for sexually-explicit images. She said he seemed to feel ‘entitled’ to them.

After raising the alleged behaviour with the manager of the organisation, the matter was dealt with quickly, with Fell apologising to Hall in front of the other members of the organisation, as well as in private.

Esports in New Zealand was recently rocked by a year-long ban on two players.

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Esports in New Zealand was recently rocked by a year-long ban on two players.

In his private apology, Fell also mentioned “swift legal action if [she would] continue to defame him and his family on a personal level”.

Six people have made allegations, saying they shared similar experiences of his behaviour.

Chat logs obtained by Stuff between Fell and Hall depict similar behaviour, including a moment where he asks if she sends sexually-charged messages to other people, before asking why he wasn’t going to receive them.

Hall said she felt uncomfortable from the moment they met, but she was unable to avoid dealing with Fell, as the organisation he owned had signed her team.

“He made us feel like we weren’t offering them anything, they were offering us stuff. When I say stuff, I mean exposure.”

She said he had offered to help her grow her fanbase, and had provided tips on how to draw in viewers when she streamed.

These tips included wearing provocative clothing, which he said would leave male viewers “praying for a little wind to hit the skirt,” and suggested she used her photos to start an account on a pornography app.

He would constantly prompt her to ask him sexually-charged questions, she said.

Kids from gaming and esports community Wellington Esports take part in playing League of Legends during Te Wiki o Te Reo.

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Kids from gaming and esports community Wellington Esports take part in playing League of Legends during Te Wiki o Te Reo.

“He would ask me to ask him questions, and he wouldn’t take anything non-sexual.”

Hall said she was put in numerous situations where the messages crossed a line, but didn’t feel like she could say anything for fear of jeopardising her role in the organisation. 

“I didn’t feel like I could [say], ‘I don’t want to have this conversation with you,’ because that would destroy our relationship professionally.”

Hall said he would create an atmosphere of trust with people privately and expected the people he communicated with to keep the nature of their conversations confidential, leading women such as Hall to feel unable to speak out against it.

Members of Team Assassins celebrate defeating Team Dignitas at the Girl Gamer Esports Festival in Dubai.

CHRISTOPHER PIKE

Members of Team Assassins celebrate defeating Team Dignitas at the Girl Gamer Esports Festival in Dubai.

“He was in a position of power over me,” she said.

“I believe he knew exactly what he was doing, and when he knew I was going public … he tried to make it off like we had a weird, flirty relationship that he misunderstood.”

Hall said she was approached by other members of the community following his resignation, looking to share their own experiences with Fell, and said he had allegedly acted in a similar manner.

“The more I thought about how he had set me up to trust him, and not confide in anybody else about what he had said, the more I felt that he had done it to other people, because it felt very intentional.”

A member of Team Dignitas in action in Dubai.

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A member of Team Dignitas in action in Dubai.

Fell has since apologised for his actions in a statement given to esports publication Here’s The Thing, describing his conduct as a “terrible mistake”.

“I was helping [Hall] with her social media and her content role with Oddity, I was giving her feedback on what she was and wasn’t putting on social media, and that’s transpired into something inappropriate.

“I went along with a flirtatious conversation with Ellie which I should have stopped straight away.

eSports has been a popular activity during the Covid-19 lockdown.

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eSports has been a popular activity during the Covid-19 lockdown.

“I’ve admitted my wrongdoings and apologised to [Hall], and the consequences are that I’ve lost everything in my life to do with esports.”

A statement from Oddity Esports expressed the “deepest contempt and consternations” for the co-founder’s alleged actions, and took direct action once the allegations came to light.

“His actions go against all moral and ethical standards that we hold very highly as an organisation and as human beings.”

Stuff has contacted lawyers acting for Fell.

 

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