More Details Surface on Alex Afrasiabi's "Cosby Suite" and Lawsuit Allegations
Kotaku has published a
on Alex Afrasiabi's "Cosby Suite" mentioned in the Activision Blizzard Lawsuit allegations, as pictures and chat messages from a 2013 group chat called the “Blizzcon Cosby Crew" have surfaced. This report, published Wednesday morning, comes alongside a
walkout organized by Activision Blizzard employees
in protest of the official handling of the
discrimination and sexual harassment lawsuit
that the company is facing, and to call for an improvement in working conditions for employees, especially those from marginalized groups.
Full Kotaku Report
While some top-level statements express shock and sadness, such as
J Allen Brack stating " I disdain 'bro culture,' and have spent my career fighting it"
, this article as well as
messaging from many employees
paints a different picture, one where employees in positions of power were aware.
The following excerpt from the Kotaku article details a a group chat from 2013 in preparation for the post-BlizzCon celebrations. It is important to note that the suite did appear to serve a more-innocent industry networking purpose earlier in the evening, and as such, pictures of employees present without context should not be used as proof of complicity. However, as the night went on and more drinking ensued, the tone of the party changed, creating an uncomfortable environment.
The captions and comments are both written by and refer by name to other Blizzard employees, the pictures show. One ex-Blizzard source familiar with the people presented in the pictures identified an HR representative as one of the Blizzard employees present in the hotel room.
Another image from the same Facebook album shows a screenshot of a 2013 group chat called the “Blizzcon Cosby Crew.” In it, former Blizzard designer David Kosak writes, “I am gathering the hot chixx for the Coz.”
“Bring em,” replies Afrasiabi. “You can’t marry ALL of them Alex,” Kosak writes. “I can, I’m middle eastern,” responds Afrasiabi. Jesse McCree, currently a lead game designer at Blizzard, then writes, “You misspelled fuck.”
Cory Stockton, currently a lead game designer at Blizzard, and Greg Street, former Blizzard developer currently working on a new MMO at Riot Games, were also present in the chat. The chat was provided as a series of screenshots depicting a wide array of Facebook posts by Afrasiabi, all under a 2013 photo album. The album contained a picture exclusively dedicated to the amount of alcohol procured in “preparation” for the Cosby suite, according to the captions. The album showcases the large, framed Cosby photo from a variety of angles, held by a number of different people.
“Possibly the greatest group chat in the history of mankind,” Stockton wrote in a Facebook comment at the time, based on the screenshot.
In one image procured by Kotaku, a group of women are sitting on a bed in the room with the Cosby portrait. One of the women appears to have a hand on another’s breast, which is cheered on by the men in the comments. The images procured by Kotaku, and two sources with knowledge of Afrasiabi’s alleged predatory behavior, Cosby’s reputation was apparently the point of why the group of men gathered around his picture in the photos.
“It was such a boys club that creating something like the ‘Cosby Suite’ was seen as funny,” one source told Kotaku. “Only you could get an efficy laid, Alex ,” reads one of the Facebook comments on the picture. “#CozApproved,” reads another written by Kosak.
Note: while the Kotaku article only identified some people in the photo, several sources have confirmed to us the employees are Alex Afrasiabi, Dave Kosak, Greg Street, Jesse McCree, Cory Stockton, Jonathan LeCraft, Josh Masqueira, Paul Cazarez
Edit: Ghostcrawler has shared a message with Riot and a few follow-up tweets providing more context on the group chat, while still acknowledging that the chat looks bad and he should have said something.
In the report, we also have an official statement from Blizzard to Kotaku on the Afrasiabi allegations, confirming he was terminated in 2020. However, Warcraft did not
start removing Afrasiabi NPCs
“An employee brought these 2013 events to our attention in June 2020,” a spokesperson for Activision Blizzard told Kotaku when asked about the “Cosby Suite” images and allegations against Afrasiabi. “We immediately conducted our own investigation and took corrective action. At the time of the report, we had already conducted a separate investigation of Alex Afrasiabi and terminated him for his misconduct in his treatment of other employees.
Here is the original brief about Afrasiabi from the Blizzard Lawsuit:
47. In a blatant example of Defendant's refusal to deal with a harasser because of his seniority/position, Alex Afrasiabi, the former Senior Creative Director of World of Warcraft at Blizzard Entertainment, was permitted to engage in blatant sexual harassment with little to no repercussions. During a company event (an annual convention called BlizzCon) Afrasiabi would hit on female employees, telling him he wanted to marry them, attempting to kiss them, and putting his arms around them. This was in plain view of other male employees, including supervisors, who had to intervene and pull him off female employees. Afrasiabi was so known to engage in harassment of females that his suite was nicknamed the "Cosby Suite" after alleged rapist Bill Cosby. Afrasiabi would also call females derogatory names at company events. Afrasiabi's conduct was known to Blizzard Entertainment's executives, who took no effective remedial measures. J. Allen Brack, President of Blizzard Entertainment, allegedly had multiple conversations with Afrasiabi about his drinking and that he had been "too friendly" towards female employees at company events but gave Afrasiabi a slap on the wrist (ie verbal counseling) in response to these incidents. Subsequently, Afrasiabi continued to make unwanted advances towards female employees, including grabbing a female employee's hand and inviting her to his hotel room and groping another women.
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