Apology

by Jacy_Reese 9mo22nd Mar 20193 min read117 comments

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Some people have expressed concern that I have made some people uncomfortable with my online romantic advances. I never intended to cause any discomfort, and I’m deeply sorry to anyone I hurt or made uncomfortable. I intend to step back from public life and the activism communities I’ve belonged to and reflect on my mistakes further. I want to err on the side of caution, and I already planned to step back after the launch of my book last year so I could focus on my research. I have been and continue to be eager to participate in any healing or restorative processes that would benefit any individuals I have wronged in any way.

I know very little of the specifics of these complaints, so unfortunately I cannot acknowledge them all. I have confirmed with third parties that there have been no complaints from anyone who has worked with or for me. I was presented with one specific conversation over Facebook Messenger, which I have been able to view in my own message history. During what I perceived to be mutual flirting, I said “Okay cutie :)”. The person said they were not interested, and I said “Okay thks for clarifying :)”. I then mentioned that I was in a polyamorous/open relationship, in order to clarify that I was not cheating or intending to cheat on my partner, which the person interpreted as persistent flirting. When I was told by a third party that the person felt uncomfortable with this exchange, I apologized, the other person thanked me for the apology, and the third party said they believed I in good faith appreciated these situations.

I have been told by third parties that the concerns were primarily about “coming on too strong” or going “0 to 60” with people I was flirting with over Facebook Messenger. Some have said that while my romantic advances would be appropriate in some contexts, it was made problematic by the power dynamics of my position as a public figure. Some have said that people viewed interactions with me in a different light after hearing about my apparent reputation of promiscuity and sleeping around, which was widely discussed in the community in August 2018, shortly before these concerns were brought to my attention.

My approach to expressing romantic interest has always been forward and direct. I am very frank, though I always do my best to be polite and courteous. In the past I’ve perceived this to have been received positively by others, who appreciated the openness and honesty, including the people I’ve ended up having long-term relationships with, but I know that having to deal with advances at all can be hurtful, uncomfortable, and frustrating, and I’m sorry for not being as aware of the effects of my actions as I should have been. I also now better understand how the dynamic between someone in a public or influential role and other members of the community can put them on unequal footing. Not knowing the specifics of the allegations, it’s also possible that my behavior was inappropriate in other ways, and I’m sorry for that too.

After a third party told me last fall about the anonymous concerns, I also wrote an apology that the third party could share with any anonymous complainants who had contacted them, and I committed to not making advances on anyone employed in the animal advocacy movement. I wanted to err on the side of caution and avoid doing any further harm, so I took this step to ensure that there was no chance of causing anyone further discomfort. I have not heard of any allegations that I have broken this commitment at any time. I don’t want to make anyone uncomfortable or disempowered, and I’m deeply sorry for not taking greater care with my actions.

CEA was made aware of concerns about my behavior, though I understand they’re not able to share details with me in order to respect the confidentiality of people who don’t wish to be identified. We no longer have any relationship and have agreed that I will not attend or speak at EA Global or other CEA events. I am also stepping back from the EA community more generally, as I have been planning to since last year in order to focus on my research. I already stopped moderating EA Facebook groups last year due to time constraints, but I will officially remove myself from “moderator” and “administrator” statuses in groups where I still have that role.

In the interest of transparency and clearing the air, I want to clarify that several rumors have been shared about me that are provably false, for instance, that I was banned from attending an animal advocacy conference, which never happened to my knowledge, or that I was warned about misbehavior and then alleged of not changing my behavior after that warning. I do not deny that I have made mistakes, but I am saddened and hurt by the rumors and falsehoods I have heard, mostly vague and third-hand. Most of the people I have spoken with about the allegations also did not hear about the restorative process, apologies, or commitment to improve that happened. I hope this public statement helps clarify the situation for outside observers.

As I mentioned at the beginning, I am stepping back from public life and will reflect on my mistakes further. I am grateful to all of my friends and colleagues who have helped me to understand my failures and become a better person. I accept the corrective actions discussed herein that mediators have agreed on, and I am grateful to have been given the opportunity to understand, right my wrongs, and improve.

In the interest of facilitating healthy discussion and my separation from CEA, I am not planning to respond to any comments on this post. If you have had interactions with me that you found problematic, please feel free to send me what information you are comfortable sharing, anonymously or otherwise, via this link. You can also reach Julia Wise, one of CEA’s community liaisons, at julia.wise@centreforeffectivealtruism.org.

Below is a statement from CEA:

We approached Jacy about our concerns about his behavior after receiving reports from several parties about concerns over several time periods, and we discussed this public statement with him. We have not been able to discuss details of most of these concerns in order to protect the confidentiality of the people who raised them, but we find the reports credible and concerning. It’s very important to CEA that EA be a community where people are treated with fairness and respect. If you’ve experienced problems in the EA community, we want to help. Julia Wise serves as a contact person for the community, and you can always bring concerns to her confidentially.

Note: This post has been updated since its original publication to include updated information.

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