Over the course of the weekend, former Naughty Dog employee David Ballard publicly stated that he was a victim of sexual harassment during his tenure at the developer. He claimed that he was harassed by a “lead” in late 2015, and after sharing his complaints with Sony’s HR department, he alleges that he was terminated and offered a financial incentive to essentially leave quietly. According to Ballard, he declined this offer.
Given the seriousness of the claims, we’ve reproduced Ballard’s statement in full, which was originally posted to Facebook before being uploaded to Twitter, where it was shared thousands of times:
In late 2015, I was sexually harassed at Naughty Dog by a lead. My work environment became extremely toxic afterward. In February 2016 I had a mental breakdown at work & Sony PlayStation HR became involved. When I told them about the harassment they ended the call and fired me the next day. They cited the company was moving in a different direction and my job was no longer needed. They tried to silence me by offering $20k if I signed a letter agreeing to the termination as well as to not discuss it with anyone. I declined to sign. I have been unemployed for 17 months since.
When interviewers ask why I left Naughty Dog, I say I was burned out by the crunch, ashamed to get to the root of the problem of being sexually harassed. I'm speaking out now because of the strength I've seen in others coming forward about their experiences in the TV/Film industry. This is the hardest thing I've ever done. I will not let anyone kill my drive or love for the video game industry, my passions or life.
Naughty Dog has since released a statement, responding to Ballard’s claims. Again, we’ll reproduce the company’s comment in full:
We have recently read on social media that an ex-employee of Naughty Dog, Dave Ballard, claims he was sexually harassed when he worked at Naughty Dog. We have not found any evidence of having received allegations from Mr. Ballard that he was harassed in any way at Naughty Dog or Sony Interactive Entertainment. Harassment and inappropriate conduct have no place at Naughty Dog and Sony Interactive Entertainment. We have taken and always will take reports of sexual harassment and other workplace grievances very seriously. We value every single person who works at Naughty Dog and Sony interactive Entertainment. It is of utmost importance to us that we maintain a safe, productive workplace environment that allows us all to channel our shared passion for making games.
Ballard worked at Naughty Dog for a total of six years, contributing to Uncharted 2: Among Thieves, Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception, The Last of Us, and Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End. His comments arrive in the wake of the storm surrounding movie mogul Harvey Weinstein, who’s currently embroiled in a police investigation following multiple accusations of sexual assault.