Home » Big Publishing » Facing Sexual Harassment Charges, An Exec Art Director at Penguin Workshop Resigns

Facing Sexual Harassment Charges, An Exec Art Director at Penguin Workshop Resigns

5 December 2017

From Publishers Weekly:

Three weeks after actress and comedian Charlyne Yi charged an art director at Penguin Random House with sexual harassment via Twitter, he has resigned. Giuseppe Castellano, executive art director of the Penguin Young Readers imprint Penguin Workshop, issued a statement on his personal blog about his decision, citing the incident with Yi as the cause. In the statement he maintained his innocence, saying that Yi’s story is “false” and that he denies “every accusation made by her.”

In her initial tweet about the encounter with Castellano, Yi said he approached her about getting together at a local bar to discuss the possibility of her doing a book. After some conversation in which Castellano said he was appalled by the recent revelations about men using their power to sexually harass women, Yi said, it became apparent to her that he was one of the “untrustworthy creeps” he was talking about.

After leaving the bar together, Castellano, Yi claimed, became more assertive. When the pair arrived at her hotel, she said he tried to convince her to invite him up to her room. While Yi did ultimately turn him away, she said she emailed him a few days after the encounter to express how disturbed she was by what had taken place. In her account, Castellano cast what had happened as humorous and offered to meet her at a coffee shop to apologize. Feeling unsafe about another meeting with him, Yi said, she declined.

. . . .

In a statement from PRH, the company said that as soon as it learned of the matter it conducted an internal investigation, and then hired an outside law firm to conduct an independent investigation. The statement continued: “These two investigations have concluded. In the end, it became clear to [Castellano] that his presence at the company had the potential to impact the day to day workings of the Penguin Workshop imprint. As a result, he resigned.”

Link to the rest at Publishers Weekly

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42 Comments to “Facing Sexual Harassment Charges, An Exec Art Director at Penguin Workshop Resigns”

  1. “his presence at the company had the potential to impact the day to day workings of the Penguin Workshop imprint. As a result, he resigned.”

    How kind of him?

    I realize it’s difficult to ascertain the true facts of the case this early, but this is ambiguous. If they think it’s true, they should fire him. If they think it’s not true, they should stand behind him.

    Or am I being too naive, and this is just PR speak?

    “I’m sorry you may have been offended by something I said” is the most infuriating of all the non-apologies.

    • Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt,

      If they think it’s true, they should fire him. If they think it’s not true, they should stand behind him.

      You and I are dinosaurs in this age. We believe in innocence until guilt is proven beyond a reasonable doubt. The kids believe where there is smoke, there is fire, and accusation = guilt.

      ‘Sentence first — verdict afterwards.’

      Welcome to Wonderland. Enjoy it. If you can.

      • Thank you for the welcome. I still believe in a concept of right and wrong, and in legal innocence (within reason – one of the new things is the amount of video evidence, some of which is incontrovertible) vs. putting dangerous people where they can’t do any more damage.

        I suspect my ‘tribe’ of readers is in our group, some of them kids. Nuances don’t escape them. So they can handle complex stories better. My beta reader is a third my age.

        And I’m too old to change.

  2. Isn’t it quite common for men to want to be asked up to an attractive young woman’s room? If the woman doesn’t want to ask him up, she says so. At this point, ungracious men can become quite grumpy. But that’s hardly sexual harassment, or a firing offence, surely?

    • It is if he has power over her, and she believes he will use it against her if she doesn’t complly.

      In other words, ‘ungracious’ has a very nasty edge.

      There is only one woman who ‘wins’ the top role in a movie (they’re notorious for having only one female character). Who can tell why you didn’t get it, but angering the casting director/etc. is widely seen as a bad career move.

      Power imbalance. Think Weinstein. Think Cosby.

    • That’s exactly what sexual harassment is. Unless you’re being sarcastic in which case, well done.

  3. Feel free to delete this if it upsets people, but I find the events of the past couple of months to be very storyable.

    This is a story as old as time. It’s all about power, and how those in power abuse it. It lends itself to many novels. I have a few in planning stage that riffs off of these classic myths/motifs, where the power of the Tale is what drives events in the story.

    A general comment:

    The current witch hunt will destroy many careers before it runs its course, and in a year there will be a backlash to the movement itself. Jaron Lanier was just on Tavis Smiley and the subject came up. Click on “transcript” for the episodes, and harvest them for future use. His description is insightful.

    Computer Scientist and Author Jaron Lanier, Part 2
    http://www.pbs.org/wnet/tavissmiley/interviews/computer-scientist-author-jaron-lanier-part-2/

    Virtual Reality Pioneer Jaron Lanier, Part 1
    http://www.pbs.org/wnet/tavissmiley/interviews/computer-scientist-author-jaron-lanier-part-1/

    The thing is, “hashtag Me Too” is not just for women complaining about men. Michael Crichton looked at this in the 90s when the last wave of sexual harassment cases hit.

    Disclosure – Original Theatrical Trailer
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=34WwXUlx7E4

    The ambivalence of the moment is contained in this movie:

    My Super Ex Girlfriend Official Trailer!
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9DY37Svrcr0

    On a personal note:

    I base my insight of the human condition on the many times these power games were played on me or in my presence, so the past couple of months has triggered some PTSD that I will use in many, many, novels. HA!

    • “Everyone believes very easily whatever they fear or desire.”

      — Jean de la Fontaine

      Reading through the thread, I see that everybody seems to be missing the point.

      – See what is happening through the eyes of a “Writer” and find the Story.

      I look at my first post and see the classic “flat affect” of PTSD, and realize that I can see what others seem to be missing. Every time I discuss current events so many people let their fears run wild, making up bizarre stories rather than look at what the actual facts are. It becomes the classic “He said, She said” which is another great movie about this, BTW. Rent it, study it.

      This is one of the oldest stories, and it still has legs.

      – Watch Masterpiece Theatre, stuff like Downton Abbey, which is filled with variations of the theme, at all levels of the mansion.

      – Watch the movie Trumbo to capture the essence of the Terror when the McCarthy Witch Hunt destroyed thousands of lives, yet being a “Communist” was never an actual crime.

      – The example I gave down thread when society went mad in the 90s destroying the lives of hundreds of people and imprisoning dozens of people for running Satanic Day Care, yet there was no crime except in the fears of the juries.

      Wiki – Day-care sex-abuse hysteria

      To get a sense of the slippery slope that happens all of the time, when fears run before reality.

      Wiki – Moral panic

      “Falsehood flies, and truth comes limping after it, so that when men come to be undeceived, it is too late; the jest is over, and the tale hath had its effect”

      — Jonathan Swift

      – All this is storyable. Use it as a “Writer”, don’t get trapped personally by it.

      BTW, I love that people are phrasing this as Men as the aggressor, and ignoring the fact that they are giving women a pass. In my personal experience it’s all about power, not gender, and women are eminently capable of being the aggressor, the one in power.

      I could waste your time discussing what I lived through. (A woman manager who liked to walk into a bar with a young man on her arm, to then hand them off to her friends, but people would say, “Such is life.”) The events were bizarre, sordid, and unbelievable. I choose to use what happened as a lens to understand how power works, regardless of gender. I choose to put what happened into Story, turn it into Fiction, where people are not only more willing to “believe” they devour the books, demanding “More.”

      Be writers. Use what is happening as a lens to understand so much more. Then write novels showing the human condition.

      Don’t be trapped in your own fears.

      Remember:

      “Between Truth and Lies is what actually[really, really, really] happened.”

      • I sat, eating lunch with PBS on. Instead of Charlie Rose talking current events, authors, world leaders, it is first a cooking show, then a knitting show. I was waiting for Tavis Smiley to come on at 1:00 pm, but he is now the latest victim in the “Witch Hunt.” Instead of Tavis, they showed Curios George.

        They replaced Tavis with a monkey.

        He should sue them for that alone.

  4. I’m confused. Does Yi work for him? It’s seems not. Since he’s not in a position of power over her and I don’t see any mention of him being grabby or even touchy-feely, and she says he tried to convince her, she said no, and he went away, this seems like a bit of a non-issue. So then she tweets about it instead of complaining to his superior.

    To say my sympathies are not engaged would be an understatement because she didn’t handle this like the adult she wants people to see her as.

    • Well said.

    • The point is that it’s a business relationship, i.e., one in which money will be exchanged for her creative output, and he is likely the decider or main influencer in that result. So yes, there is power in that. That’s terribly, terribly obvious. It was not a romantic situation and he tried to turn it into one, or a purely sexual one. She had to reject that numerous times in order to return it to a purely business-oriented relationship.

    • Mmmm. Male viewpoint here, from observing fellow males in many industries. (A few predatory females, too!)

      No, her paycheck wasn’t dependent on him. Not directly. But this is an industry (or, rather, the trad-pub subsector of the industry now) that is very much like the movie industry. There are people out there where you “put out” – or they have the power to ensure that you don’t get the part (or book contract).

      That said, every one of these accusations should go through complete due process, period. As close to the time of the alleged incident as possible. That applies whether I agree with the accused in other ways, or consider them less than what I scrape off of my shoes after a walk through the stockyards. What we are seeing is exactly like the “process” applied on college campuses these days.

      • Ashe Elton Parker

        This case in particular reminds me of a case of alleged child abuse I heard/read about when I was a teen. Not sure when it happened, or where, but one child mentioned being sexually abused by an employee at the daycare/preschool where the child was taken each day. Thinking to get to the bottom of the issue, the authorities had therepists/psychologists question the other children in succession, and before the train could be stopped, every single employee of the daycare/preschool was implicated in the abuse.

        The case of course went to court.

        Which assigned psych people who were far more experienced in questioning children about sexual abuse (specialists who didn’t ask leading questions). These psych people managed to uncover multitudes of inconsistencies in the children’s stories, both in relation to one another, as well as on an individual basis.

        The case against the daycare/preschool employees promptly collapsed.

        But by then lives were ruined, the daycare/preschool had been shut down, and there were still parents of those children who believed, despite all evidence to the contrary, that every single adult involved in the daycare/preschool had molested all the children and that every single one of the court’s assigned investigators had gotten the children to lie.

        (I don’t doubt the initial child was sexually abused. I just think the child picked a “safe” person to accuse because the real perpetrator was a family member or friend of the family and he/she didn’t want to upset his/her parents with the truth.)

        But that’s what Yi’s claim reminds me of.

      • I feel I must add how terribly inconvenient, embarrassing, time-consuming, humiliating, and annoying it must be for a woman who is treated this way by a man who thinks he can get away with these demands, to report it, to go through the investigation, to pursue it to trial.

        And the sample of opinions from people who seek to discredit her – and even tell her she’s misunderstood or exaggerated – that the women who have come forth have elicited (mostly from men, but also from some women) is ample proof that they should keep their mouths shut and not report.

    • But Suzie, all women should be believed! /sarc

      I’d just like to point out that this epidemic of sex scandals—whether real or fabricated—would not be such a problem in a society where the majority practiced abstinence before marriage and fidelity within.

      Also, after generations of lambasting traditional sexual mores as being too “prudish,” we now live in a world where 25% of millennials believe it’s sexual harassment for a man to ask a woman if he can buy her a drink. Shoe, meet foot.

      • “I’d just like to point out that this epidemic of sex scandals—whether real or fabricated—would not be such a problem in a society where the majority practiced abstinence before marriage and fidelity within.”

        I often have very similar thoughts these days. Some say, “A woman must say an explicit ‘yes’ every step along the way, with every new move in a sexual situation, or else it’s rape.” I tend to think, rather, that everything would be perfectly clear if a woman (and man) only need to give an explicit ‘yes’ once, and–violence aside and inappropriate timing aside–all future sexual situations are mutually understood as consented to. (The ‘yes’ being ‘I do’ is what I’m getting at.) By extension, any sexual situation that takes place without that ‘yes’ is understood as not consented to. Simple, really. All this ‘sexual liberation’ nonsense has muddied the waters of sexual crime in ways those who are still pro-promiscuity refuse to acknowledge.

        • So, essentially, women should go back to being men’s chattel? Because it’s not really as simple as “I do” being “yes” when there’s such things as marital rape. By saying a woman gives her consent with “I do,” that will lead some men (not all by any means) to the “realization” that they have a right to their wife’s body no matter what. And not all rape involves violence; passive acceptance of unwanted sex is just as much rape as violently forced sex is. The key here is men and how they’re taught to view women by masculine society. True, a lot of men don’t fall prey to toxic masculinity and the fallacy that men are the dominant sex, but enough do that equating “yes” with “I do” will permit those that do to at the very least justify their forcing of themselves upon their wives with “She said ‘I do’ so she’s mine to do with as I please.”

          Men need to step up to the plate here. Those who don’t buy into the male-dominance delusion and who are not abusive and who do respect women need to start speaking up when their less respectful brothers are spouting off their condescending and sexist crap to and about (in both mixed and male-only company) women.

          Teach all men to be respectful of women, and how not to be sexist twits, and I bet a lot of this sexual harassment (real and imagined) will go away.

          • Of course Women were never men’s chattel in the first place, unless you subscribe to the theory that men have been oppressing women for the past 50,000 years until some bourgeoisie White women in the 20th century realised what was happening and decided to fight back against their oppressors, and in that case all women before that time must’ve been either incompetent or unintelligent.

            • Ashe Elton Parker

              Freewomen weren’t permitted to vote in Ancient Rome, only freemen were. Throughout most of Antiquity, women were not regularly permitted to rule countries–those who did were the odd ones, the exceptions. Over the course of most of biblical history (old and new testament), women are depicted as being chattel with few opportunities to control their own lives, and the Catholic church, which dominated Western/European Religion for most of the past 2k years, not only condoned but actively promoted the ideal of “woman as man’s property,” and many Protestant faiths that branched off followed suit.

              The fact is, women’s rights have been restricted throughout history in ways that men’s rights have not been, simply because men saw themselves as the dominant sex and acted accordingly, by restricting women’s rights to the point where men had control of who and when women married; whether or not they could own land; and what familial, household, and social tasks and behaviors women were supposed to perform.

              And, no, women of historic times weren’t incompetent or unintelligent. They were simply constrained by their particular social norms and lacked the sort of feminine leadership which won the Sufferage fight in the early 20th century. And I’d even go so far as to say that they, having been raised to their social norms, were simply blind to the fact that they should or could organize to demand equal rights with men.

              I cannot speak about social norms in socieies during most of the time prior to written history (and nobody else can either), but I imagine prehistoric societies may have been a bit more egalitarian, with women sharing many of the same social rights as men. Nobody really knows what prehistoric societies were like, though, so all we can do is indulge in conjecture about it.

              • Nobody really knows what prehistoric societies were like, though, so all we can do is indulge in conjecture about it.

                But, we can observe primitive societies. Those societies all have very obvious distinctions between men and women in terms of both biology, the kind of work they do, and their place in the social structure.

                Those societies don’t have the luxury of doing things in ineffective or inefficient ways. If they do, they quickly die.

                I suspect many of our current cultural norms have a basis in the far past when small groups huddled around a camp fire and tried to figure out how to get through the next day. Some probably go back further. They did what worked. Those that didn’t are gone. That heritage is far stronger than we think.

              • In traditional societies, both men and women were expected to carry out certain roles and have certain responsibilities and neither party had much Choice in that for the most part.
                While it’s true that women were expected to stay in the home and look after the children, it was also expected that men go out to work and often do demanding physical labour, and if they didn’t, they wouldn’t get any money.
                The problem with looking at history through gendered lens is that you miss out on a lot of the nuances of the time.

          • Marriage is mutual. It’s a partnership of equals. Anyone who views their spouse as their property shouldn’t be married. Once someone is married, yes, their body is their spouse’s. That goes both ways. A man’s body belongs to his wife. (Which, among other things, means that a man is just as much required to be faithful as a woman.) Marriage–real marriage the way it is meant to be–is about mutual respect, mutual belonging. It is 100% not about one spouse having absolute authority over the other. This whole “marriage is female enslavement” thing is a lie. People misuse marriage in the same way they misuse every possible relationship or pretty much anything else on Earth. That doesn’t mean that’s what marriage is. Marriage also requires respect for the other person, which is where things like forcing sex when the other spouse doesn’t want or doing it in a way that physically or psychologically hurts them comes in. Respect is a requirement of marriage. If those things are happening, one or both spouses are not respecting the other, and therefore they’re not doing marriage the way it’s meant to be done. This, again, does not mean marriage itself is inherently sexist or anti-woman.

          • If you want to see women treated as chattel, there’s an endless array of porn and erotica available for free in any format you can possibly imagine, from magazines to ebooks and videos to video games. Our modern “liberated” world is full of it.

            Nothing has done more to foster the respect of women than the institution of marriage.

  5. Feminism, entitlement and social media culture seem to come together to form this toxic culture, where women seem to want to be treated more like children and responsibility Is a dirty word.

  6. The only change in this surge of charges and instant sentences is that previously protected people are being treated the same way as younger/less powerful men have been treated for years now. Particularly college age men, guilty or not…

    Now the old and powerful are getting the same treatment as the young and powerless. No more double standard there

    • Now, me, I would find more interesting a discussion on how the current environment is the inevitable result of the combination of frictionless information distribution via online networks and the ascendancy of populist delegitimization politics across the spectrum.

      After years of everybody being demonized for one reason or another nobody in public life has any default credibility left. That is leading us into… interesting (and dangerous) territory.

      Since the breakdown of societies is a theme I’m actively interested in, I”m taking notes. 🙂

  7. I’ve been on the inside of a few situations where people have resigned in the face of an accusation which may appear bad, but then again might not be so bad, yet the accused person resigns.

    In two cases I watched, the accused person had been condemned for some time in the court of the water cooler. Whether the water cooler court was just, I have no way of knowing, but there was a consensus. When HR and upper management cracked down in the face of a public accusation for which legal said a public response was necessary, the condemned man (yes, they were both men) was offered an opportunity to resign before they were made the star in a public drama.

    HR and management cracked down for practical reasons. The miscreants rolled over, I assume, for equally practical reasons. This is business and nothing but business.

  8. Ashe Elton Parker

    I think I’ll withhold judgement until other women come forward with similar accusations against Castellano.

    • And if no one else comes forward, that means he’s automatically innocent?

      My FIL threatened to kill my MIL. Under advisement of her priest, she promptly left and then divorced him. None of his other wives accused him of the same or similar threats. Does that mean he was innocent?

  9. As Allynh said in the above comment this really has become the recent witch hunt.

    And to make the current attitude of the public even more dangerous (where a person is not being accused of an actual action which could be proved or not) there is really no way to establish if something actually happened or not. And with feelings, not actions, being the bases for the claim the accused has no recourse to an accusation.

    As Writing Observe said “…every one of these accusations should go through complete due process, period.”

    But what is ‘due process’ here? Her accusation is based on how she felt, not what he did, and that is subjective. She (or anyone) can say they felt sexually harassed in the way the other person offered them a piece of gum. How does one defend against something like that? It seems the only defense to this kind of thing would be as efficient as holding someone under water and if they die they are innocent.

    I know the author is paraphrasing here, but they say,

    Yi said, it became apparent to her that he was one of the “untrustworthy creeps” he was talking about.
    After leaving the bar together, Castellano, Yi claimed, became more assertive. When the pair arrived at her hotel, she said he tried to convince her to invite him up to her room.

    What the f**k! If the man was oozing creepiness why the hell would someone leave the bar and go back to her hotel with him?

    Allynh said, “This is a story as old as time. It’s all about power, and how those in power abuse it.“

    Yes and No. This is also a way for the non-powerful to take down the powerful for whatever reason they choose when they choose without having to face any consequences. Whether or not the accusations are true, the non-powerful has just gotten their name out there. Isn’t that the point of social media? Even if it is later proven that a person lied, who cares, their name is out there.

    Ashe Elton Parker said , “I think I’ll withhold judgement until other women come forward with similar accusations against Castellano.”

    Good for you, we all should.

    However, this is the kind of situation that lends itself so well to a ‘ME TOO!’ rollout of accusers. Do more people saying the same thing make something true? Unfortunately in society the answer seems to be yes.

    • As far as I’m concerned, and speaking as a female who has been sexually harassed more than once by various men, Yi’s claim, especially given that she accused another man of being racist (he apologized for it), is her seeking more time in the spotlight and the possibility that she was setting things up to sue him (and, perhaps, his former employer, for keeping him employed).

      If other women start making similar accusations, and if they describe Castellano doing more than trying to get invited into their homes, however temporary, I may have more sympathy for Yi. It’s just that I’ve known more than one woman who called sexual harassment on men who had no history of it, and who treated me and every other woman in the business/whatnot with utmost respect, purely for whatever attention and monetary compensation they thought they could squeeze out of the men they targeted.

      Also, I have to wonder what type of woman would decide to continue hanging out with someone she thought was a sexual predator to the point of returning to her hotel in his company. I mean if she, even drunk, was smart, self-confident, and sensible enough to refuse to invite him up to her room at his suggestion, then she, even drunk was certainly smart, self-confident, and sensible enough to walk away when she first realized he was a creep. A smart, self-confident, and sensible woman doesn’t stick around in an effort to be proven otherwise–she gets away as quickly as she can do so, unless she’s got ulterior motives.

      • This wasn’t so long ago:

        https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Rape_on_Campus

        No lessons have been learned anywhere.

        By now it is clear that men of any age need to learn to never be alone with any female in any non-social situations.
        In social situations a pocket audio recorder should be running at all times, with the recordings archived in a vault until death.

        😉

        Welcome to the 21st century.

  10. That 20 acre parcel of $100/acre land on the Utah-Nevada border is looking more and more attractive all the time.

    Also, I need more guns.

  11. I’m a little reluctant to plunge in here, and have no knowledge or strong opinion about the case in question, but there’s one point I haven’t seen made clearly enough to suit me.

    Yes, it’s true that false or misleading accusations shouldn’t be seized upon immediately. (I have two kind and respectful sons and a wonderful husband, so I’m sympathetic to men). BUT….

    Manipulators are very good at what they do. These are not necessarily cases of a guy just following his instincts or flexing his power muscles once in a while. As with child predators, these creeps can become very skilled at “grooming” their prey, at maneuvering them into a potentially awkward situation by making them feel as if they’re paranoid to object, etc. They’re good at edging up to the line, ready to scuttle back and cry “who, me?” if the woman objects, right up to the point where she (with good reason) feels seriously violated.

    I once backed off on a job application because of this sort of treatment, which never quite got to the point of actual harassment but made me very uncomfortable (“Oh, it’s late, let’s continue this interview at a restaurant. Wait, I have to stop off at my apartment on the way…”) Fortunately, I left in time–in retrospect, I believe the guy had more in mind than an interview–and later landed a much better job at a place where I was treated respectfully. But not everyone is so fortunate, or as assertive as I am.

    • Yes, it’s true that false or misleading accusations shouldn’t be seized upon immediately.

      That is what we see on college campuses, and what was directed by the Department of Education. The DOE policy was recently rescinded.

    • This is an extremely good point. Predators are very good at what they do, and they are ESPECIALLY good at making their prey think it’s their fault that anything is happening.

      They have a sense for the weak and powerless and take full advantage of it.

      Many women have no idea how to handle aggressiveness like the kind displayed by Weinstein and Lauer.

      I’m not saying to believe every claim without investigation, but I’m seeing an awful lot of very plausible reports about reprehensible behavior on the part of these men. I’m not at all sorry they’re being fired. This has been a long time coming.

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