Today, we have taken the following actions:
Brent is banned from all CFAR activities and spaces until the original ACDC recommendation—which suggested a ban was unnecessary—can be revisited by an improved due process. This is not a statement of judgment—we believe that a provisional ban would be an appropriate precaution for any allegation of this nature, proven or not.
We have disbanded ACDC. As things stand, the group is no longer in a position to accomplish its original mission for CFAR and the community.
We are making the apology below, for the things we already understand to have been mistakes and sources of damage.
ACDC (the Alumni Community Disputes Council) is a group of three unpaid volunteer Council Members (one of whom is a CFAR staff member) appointed by CFAR in 2017 to independently hear and assess community disputes and offer recommendations in cases where action is needed. Two days ago (in response to the Medium posts), ACDC sent an email to a number of people in the community, releasing details of ACDC’s investigation into Brent earlier this year. That email was problematic in several ways.
Firstly, it used the name of the accuser, who had trusted that their identity would be treated with discretion. This is an awful mistake. It’s one that never should have happened, and ACDC has since released a follow-up with acknowledgement and an apology. We are profoundly grateful to all of the people who ensured that publicly released versions of the email were anonymized. We strongly request that everyone maintain that going forward. We have reached out to the person affected to apologize directly, though we realize this is harmful not just to them, but to everyone who has interacted with ACDC in confidence. We are available to talk with anyone in that situation about the measures being taken to protect their privacy.
Secondly, the email seemed to represent the outcome of a process aimed at answering a narrower question—”Should Brent be banned from CFAR’s community space, based on the information we have available?”—as something more significant, such as a verdict on Brent as a person or the credibility of all accusations against him. Even if the investigation had been conducted well, it would have been deeply inappropriate to construe the resulting recommendation as adjudicating the full set of accusations that came to light in the posts.
Thirdly, the email claimed that the Medium posts contained no new information, and that the behavior detailed in them was known to the panel when they made their decision to not ban Brent from CFAR events and spaces. It was not, and the error confused initial CFAR and community responses to the posts.
To the extent that CFAR did not provide ACDC with sufficient resources and oversight to properly execute its larger mission, that is our fault and not the fault of the volunteer council members. We want to understand the details of what went wrong and how to do better going forward. We have only just started that process and will provide updates to the community once we have them. In the meantime, in addition to the actions above, we offer our apologies to the involved parties, and to all in our alumni network and in the broader community who needed better leadership in this situation.