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Walt Disney Co. Declines To Say Whether It Is Investigating Allegations Against John Lasseter

The Walt Disney Company has thrown up a wall of silence around John Lasseter.

Following last week’s reports of long-term inappropriate behavior toward women, Walt Disney Animation Studios and Pixar chief creative officer John Lasseter admitted to “missteps” and said he would take a six-month sabbatical. The only comment the Disney Company has provided is that it “fully supports” Lasseter’s sabbatical.

In a new piece published in Variety this morning, Disney maintained its silent treatment. It declined to tell the Hollywood trade publication whether it intended to launch an investigation into the accusations against Lasseter. It also refused to say whether Lasseter would continue to receive a salary during his leave of absence.

It is not yet clear how – or even if – the Walt Disney Company intends to address the situation, or whether the company is capable of self-policing sexual misconduct at its top executive levels. What is becoming evident though is that many people at Disney had known about and tolerated Lasseter’s behavior for years.

In one incident, reported by Vanity Fair, Lasseter allegedly French kissed and fondled a female Disney employee against her will, which led to a phone meeting of top Disney execs including Walt Disney Animation Studios (WDAS) and Pixar president Ed Catmull and WDAS production chief Andrew Millstein. “The subject of the phone call was, ‘Shit, what are we going to do about John?,’” a person who was on the call told Vanity Fair. “Lasseter is the crazy-horny 13-year-old who you have to keep in check all the time. ”

“They’ve known for a long time,” an unidentified source told Variety today. “It has gone all the way to the top. I know personally that Bob [Iger, Disney CEO] was aware. … Everybody was aware. They just didn’t do anything about it.”

Many rank-and-file employees at both Disney and Pixar animation studios were also aware of Lasseter’s behavior, as confirmed by former Disney animation artist Minkyu Lee on Twitter:

Minkyu Lee tweet.

Sources have additionally told Cartoon Brew that they believe there has been at least one financial settlement from the Walt Disney Company to a woman, stemming from Lasseter’s actions.

In the Variety piece, authors Gene Maddaus and Ricardo Lopez point out that, “In the absence of an internal investigation of Lasseter, much depends on whether Pixar employees come forward with on-the-record allegations. Either way, the company will have to weigh the risks of hanging on to Lasseter against the benefits of allowing him to continue to shepherd films onto the screen.”

For now, a well-fortified wall of silence remains around Lasseter.

The question is: How long will it last?

(Photo: Shutterstock)