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Jay Asher expelled from writer organization over harassment

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By HILLEL ITALIE
AP National Writer

NEW YORK (AP) - Best-selling children's author Jay Asher has been expelled from a prominent writers organization because of allegations about sexual harassment.

Lin Oliver, executive director of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators, told The Associated Press on Monday that Asher had violated the society's harassment code. He was banned last year but the news only came to light with the rise of the #MeToo movement. Asher and prize-winning illustrator David Diaz, who was also kicked out of the organization, were mentioned frequently in a recent comment thread on School Library Journal about harassment in children's publishing.

"Both Jay Asher and David Diaz were found to have violated the SCBWI code of conduct in regard to harassment," Oliver wrote in an email. "Claims against them were investigated and, as a result, they are no longer members and neither will be appearing at any SCBWI events in the future."

Asher is known for novels such as "Thirteen Reasons Why" and "The Future of Us," while Diaz won the prestigious Caldecott medal for illustration for the 1994 book "Smoky Night." Diaz has worked on dozens of books, including "Me, Frida" and "The Little Scarecrow Boy."

The publishers for Asher and Diaz didn't have any immediate comment Monday. Asher told BuzzFeed News on Monday that he left voluntarily and felt that he had been "thrown under the bus."

"It's very scary when you know people are just not going to believe you once you open your mouth," he said. "I feel very conflicted about it just because of what's going on in the culture and who's supposed to be believed and who's not."

Later on Monday, the Oklahoma Writers' Federation told the AP that Asher would not be giving a scheduled keynote address at its conference in May.

"Mr. Asher has denied the accusations, but in the end understood our decision to go in a different direction," said the federation's publicity director, author Jennifer McMurrain.

"Thirteen Reasons Why" was Asher's first book. The 2007 novel about a high school student's suicide, adapted last year into a Netflix series, has attracted attention for its explicit content, including assault and harassment. Netflix is planning to bring "Thirteen Reasons Why" back in 2018, but hasn't set a date. Netflix did not respond to a query about whether the allegations would affect the show's status.

Asher, 42, has spoken publicly about the treatment of women. Last weekend, he responded to a tweet by the prize-winning author Laurie Halse Anderson, who wrote of her "volcanic anger about rape culture and toxic masculinity."

"So grateful for @halseanderson's voice and continued passion," he wrote.

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