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Pixar exec takes leave of absence after harassment allegations

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Pixar boss John Lasseter at the premiere of Disney’s “Zootopia” at the El Capitan Theatre, Hollywood on February 17, 2016.
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John Lasseter, the chief creative officer of Pixar and Walt Disney Animation Studios, is taking a leave of absence, citing unspecified “missteps,” according to a memo to staff.

A story published in the Hollywood Reporter details the accounts of women at Pixar who were made to feel uncomfortable by Lasseter’s unwanted touch. Lasseter was known around the company as a “hugger” and allegedly tried to kiss his female employees on the mouth.

Lasseter, who built Pixar Animation Studios into an entertainment juggernaut, said in the memo that the decision followed “difficult conversations.”

“I’ve recently had a number of difficult conversations that have been very painful for me,” Lasseter wrote in the memo. “It’s never easy to face your missteps, but it’s the only way to learn from them. … It’s been brought to my attention that I have made some of you feel disrespected or uncomfortable. That was never my intent.”

The women of Pixar developed strategies to avoid Lasseter and his unwanted groping — particularly at wrap parties where he was known to drink heavily. One former employee anonymously alleged her manager didn’t allow her to attend meetings with Lasseter because “John has a hard time controlling himself around young pretty girls,” she told Variety.

The woman said her absence from those meetings left her feeling “undervalued and stifled” at Pixar. Ultimately, she left, citing leadership that stunted her career instead of having “difficult conversations with the most important, high-ranking and powerful man in the company.”

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