Membership Message

Posted: 6/22/2020

The International Thriller Writers (ITW) Board of Directors released the following statement in response to member inquiries and social media posts relating to serious allegations brought by an ITW member.

There is nothing more important to us than the safety and well-being of our more than 5,000 members. ITW exists because of our members – because an inspired and motivated group of thriller authors and readers yearned for a community, and so they went out and built it. Today, 16 years later, we are proud that ITW has flourished and serves as a resource for professional and personal growth for our authors, readers, and industry peers.

ITW does not tolerate sexual assault or harassment of any kind against anyone. As an organization we have a zero tolerance harassment policy that allows us to take action against members at ITW-sponsored conferences, meetings, and other ITW events. It also allows the Board to consider other information and make decisions regarding membership within ITW and participation at our events to ensure the safety of our community.

In the last several weeks our actions have caused pain and confusion in our community as we’ve tried to respond to a serious matter involving two of our members. That was not our intent and we are deeply sorry for that. We are committed to rebuilding your trust, and that starts with us being as transparent as possible in the hopes that we can earn it back.

On April 15, 2020, we received a letter from a female member’s lawyer alerting the Board to serious allegations by her regarding conduct that occurred at Bouchercon, a conference that took place in November 2019. We were deeply disturbed by these allegations and let her know that we supported her decision to alert both us and law enforcement which had begun an investigation into the matter. We asked her legal counsel to keep us updated on that criminal investigation and readily agreed to honor her request for confidentiality on the matter.

In our response to her legal counsel – and our community more broadly when these allegations were aired on social media – we explained that our harassment policy covers ITW-sponsored events, and that the conference in which the alleged sexual assault took place was not an ITW event. We further noted that our annual conference ThrillerFest 2020 – due to be our next industry-wide event – had been cancelled because of COVID-19 concerns. We did that in an attempt to reassure this member, and the community more broadly, that there would be no upcoming ITW event that would create a safety situation for her or any of our other members as the police continued its investigation of this matter.

At no time did we then, or are we now, dismissing the serious allegations that were raised. Law enforcement authorities are far better equipped to handle any criminal investigation than ITW. We are reviewing this matter as a Board based on her complaint, while being mindful not to interfere in that ongoing investigation. In that regard we have requested more information from her attorney.

We realize our attempts to clarify and reassure failed – we get that.  

We want to make clear – in no uncertain terms – that we are taking this matter seriously. Our goal is always to ensure that ITW events are safe and welcoming for all. We obviously failed to communicate our intent with clarity and compassion. That failure caused confusion and hurt, and for that we are deeply sorry.

We have learned from this experience and we will do better.

**This statement has been updated.