John Lasseter, the co-founder of Pixar Animation Studios and the Walt Disney Companys animation chief, will leave the company at the end of the year following a sexual harassment scandal. The company made the announcement on Friday, reports variety.com.
Lasseter, who was chief creative officer of Walt Disney Animation Studios and Pixar, has been on a “sabbatical” since November 21 last year when he sent a memo to staff apologising for “unwanted hugs”.
Female employees told Variety at the time that Lasseter had a reputation for touching women inappropriately, including rubbing their legs and kissing them on the lips, in the office. Lasseter was also reprimanded for making out with a subordinate at an Oscar party in 2010, sources told Variety.
Over the last two weeks, many in the animation community have urged Disney to oust Lasseter for good. Social media users adopted the tag #LoseLasseter. Though Lasseter was executive producer of Incredibles 2, he did not appear at the film’s premiere on Tuesday, reports variety.com.
In a statement on Friday, the company said that Lasseter will take a consulting role until December 31, when he will leave the company. The statement did not acknowledge the reasons for Lasseter’s departure, nor did it give any indication that the company investigated his conduct.
“John had a remarkable tenure at Pixar and Disney Animation, reinventing the animation business, taking breathtaking risks, and telling original, high quality stories that will last forever,” CEO Bob Iger said.
“We are profoundly grateful for his contributions, which included a masterful and remarkable turnaround of The Walt Disney Animation Studios. One of John’s greatest achievements is assembling a team of great storytellers and innovators with the vision and talent to set the standard in animation for generations to come.”
In his own statement, Lasseter said: “The last six months have provided an opportunity to reflect on my life, career and personal priorities. While I remain dedicated to the art of animation and inspired by the creative talent at Pixar and Disney, I have decided the end of this year is the right time to begin focusing on new creative challenges.
“I am extremely proud of what two of the most important and prolific animation studios have achieved under my leadership and I’m grateful for all of the opportunities to follow my creative passion at Disney.”
Disney did not announce a replacement for Lasseter at either studio.