Response from Frog God Games to events on social media

An incident took place at PaizoCon 2017, and we address that here. Matt Finch is the partner at Frog God Games who conducted our internal investigation.

I am Matt Finch, the partner of Frog God Games appointed by the partners to investigate a sexual harassment complaint filed against Mr. Webb at Paizo Con 2017. Mr. Webb was not consulted by the partners on this decision. Due to recent accusations made on Twitter by a third party, I will outline the aspects of the situation to the extent that they do not compromise the confidentiality of the person who filed the report, I will describe the nature of our internal investigation, and will also address the recently-raised tweets by Robert Brookes on his twitter feed. This report will not necessarily be updated; it stands for itself at the time of posting, based on the knowledge I currently have.

First, it is correct that a complaint was filed with Paizo at Paizo Con against Bill. I was made aware of this by phone on the day it happened (I was not present at the convention). Frog God is aware of the identity of the person who made the complaint, because they spoke to three of our partners at the convention after the event. We have not been invited to share that person’s identity, and although we are not under legal obligation to protect that confidentiality we have elected to respect that person’s desire not to have the event brought into the spotlight.

Gathering information in a situation like this is necessarily limited due to Paizo’s own confidentiality obligations. To assemble information, I spoke to the three partners who had talked with the person who filed the complaint, and obtained their accounts of what they were told. Secondhand accounts are not perfect, and I had to weigh that against the fact that an attorney making direct contact with someone who has filed such a report can be seen as a threat or intimidation, and weighing those two issues, I chose to rely on a comparison of the conversations between the individual and our partners, plus Paizo’s own resolution of the matter at the time, plus a necessarily-cautious review of Bill’s account. There has been contact between the person who filed the complaint and Frog God partners since the event, and I will provide a screenshot of one such communication with the name redacted. I believe the screenshot provides a great deal of clarification.

Reducing the event to a level that will maintain confidentiality, my understanding based on my investigation was that Bill Webb took an action and engaged in speech that could be construed as a sexual advance or as gender-dismissive.

In consequence of this finding, I and another senior partner of the company had a meeting with Mr. Webb about expectations, standards of behavior, and future protocol. We addressed that one’s lack of bad intentions does not excuse problematic behavior.

Some people have asked that Mr. Webb acknowledge and apologize for the situation. Bill does deeply regret his actions, and understands that they were inappropriate and upsetting. I have told Mr. Webb not to contact the person directly, for the same reason that I have not done so myself: the potential for that contact to appear intimidating or threatening. However, at whatever time the person lets us know that a direct apology from Mr. Webb would be welcomed, that apology will be immediately forthcoming. Mr. Webb is also under instruction not to discuss this matter in public, in case peripheral details were to be inadvertently disclosed that might allow the identification of the person by another party. This is also the reason we chose to have me, as the investigating partner, write the public report, given that a report has become necessary in response to a recent description of the event on Twitter.

In terms of the affected person’s own view on the matter, and as a lead-in to a discussion of the recent tweets, we believe that the following communication will give third parties a better understanding of the context of the event. This is from the person who made the complaint, with name and metadata redacted:

A series of tweets brought to our attention have mentioned that an altercation occurred at the time of the incident, and that a Paizo employee was injured. From talking to the individual who made the complaint we have not been made aware of any altercation beyond the behavior of Mr. Webb addressed in the complaint. To date, we have not received any information from Paizo or any other party regarding an employee being injured or how such an injury occurred. I can be contacted at mythmere at yahoo dot com if anyone has further first-person accounts. I will be out of country for the next two weeks, but when I return I will review any such information.

It is important to mention, too, that this morning we posted an advertisement on our site that appeared to be related to this issue. Chuck called Zach to point this out, and Zach deleted the post. Apparently, someone had already made a comment on it right during the interval, which Zach didn’t notice. That post and its timing were an incredibly messed-up coincidence, but a coincidence. If we had seen the comment, we would have left it up and used it as the place to link to this report.

Matt Finch, Frog God Games