We want to thank everyone who came forward - both in person and via email - to report a harassment incident at Readercon 23. We followed up those reports with interviews with the target of the harassment, various witnesses, and Rene Walling, the harasser. The information we collected and reviewed was consistent, consequently, we feel the facts of the incident are not in dispute.
When we wrote our zero-tolerance policy in 2008 (in response to a previous incident), we were operating under the assumption that violators were either intent on their specific behaviors, clueless, or both.
During the course of our conversation with Rene it became immediately apparent that he realized what he had done and was sincerely regretful of his actions. It was that recognition and regret that influenced our decision, not his status in the community. If, as a community, we wish to educate others about harassment, we must also allow for the possibility of reform.
Our decision was suspension of his membership for at least two years. In the three years between Readercons 23 and 26 we will actively look for evidence of real and permanent positive change in his behavior. It was made very clear to him that if we receive any substantiated reports of continued inappropriate behavior at any venue - during or after the suspension period - his suspension will become permanent.
Should any other incidents occur, we encourage witnesses to report them to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We want to reaffirm our continued support for all members of the community who are the targets of harassment, and our continued determination to make Readercon a safer space.
Bob Colby, Merryl Gross, B. Diane Martin, David G. Shaw, Eric M. Van
Readercon Board of Directors
EDIT: Please read the Readercon convention committee's statement on recent events: http://readercon.org/publicstatement.ht