CBLDF Board Made Employee Sign NDA Not to Talk About Her Departure

It is not uncommon for someone to accuse someone else on social media of misconduct in recent years. I have covered several such revelations within the comic book industry, and they all take time. Bleeding Cool EIC Kaitlyn Booth has held the line that we don't repeat accusations on Bleeding Cool without the explicit agreement of those making them, so as not to put an undue spotlight on the person making the claims. This sometimes means we don't report the incident or don't report specific claims. As a result of this stance, there are stories we haven't been able to run, or came late to, but also stories we have been able to run that no one else has.

On Monday morning, Bleeding Cool reported on Charles Brownstein's decision to resign as director of the free speech advocacy group, the Comic Book Legal Fund after eighteen years. I understand this was very much at the invitation from the CBLDF board after a vote this past weekend. This was a much-delayed result of events of 2005, where he sexually assaulted comic creator Taki Soma at a comic book convention, coming back to light on social media over the weekend, as creators stated they would no longer work with the CBLDF.

Since the initial charges, whenever the story was brought up (and it was frequently), the CBLDF line was that severe strictures had been imposed at the time after an independent investigation, Brownstein had since sought treatment, that apologies had been made, and it was a one-off event, Yesterday, former CBLDF employee Cheyenne (Shy) Allott stated otherwise. She tweeted out, and gave permission for Bleeding Cool to republish, the official NDA Release Request she made to the CBLDF board,

My name is Cheyenne Allott, and I worked for the CBLDF in 2010, under Charles Brownstein. Due to the unacceptable and dangerous conditions of my employment, and after numerous complaints to the board, I quit after 6 months.  As a condition of my departure, I signed a non-disclosure agreement. I was told it was either that, or I pay back my relocation fee, which was impossible for me at the time.  Iwould like to be legally released from the conditions of my NDA, since the executive director has been found to act unlawfully and unacceptably in matters such as these. This is an opportunity for you to take a step towards the transparency you are working hard to establish. I suggest you take it.  Attached is my NDA for your review, I look forward to hearing from you.

The suggestion is that this was not a one-off and five years later something else happened. But also that the CBLDF, a free speech activist organisation, had insisted on an NDA for departing employees, in such a situation, with their financial wellbeing held over their head. She gave further details, saying

It was $5k. I was 25 and without a job in NY which was my mother's exact worst fear. I can afford it now, but even then I knew I couldn't bring myself to pay for the worst job I'd ever have.

And as to the relocation fee,

It was leveraged often in convo. However, I (somewhat successfully) contested that clause by writing out a detailed account of Charles's inappropriate actions and the extremely unsafe environment, arguing that he broke the contract first.

Bleeding Cool reached out to the CBLDF and to Charles Brownstein for comment. We have yet to hear back.

CBLDF Board Made Employee Sign NDA Not to Talk About Her Departure.
CBLDF Board Made Employee Sign NDA Not to Talk About Her Departure.

About Rich Johnston

Founder of Bleeding Cool. The longest-serving digital news reporter in the world, since 1992. Author of The Flying Friar, Holed Up, The Avengefuls, Doctor Who: Room With A Deja Vu, The Many Murders Of Miss Cranbourne, Chase Variant. Lives in South-West London, works from Blacks on Dean Street, shops at Piranha Comics. Father of two. Political cartoonist.

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