Statement on Sexual Misconduct

Please read this statement in full before contacting me about it. — P.W.C.

A few months ago, a former model (@shitmodelmgmt on Instagram) began compiling a list of, in her words, “people in the fashion industry that I SUGGEST models avoid, because I have been told that they have acted sexually inappropriate to models [emphasis in original].”

[ADDENDUM (5 March 2018): the author of the list has decided to take it down after receiving death threats against herself and her family.]

A list of names followed; names with an asterisk next to them had been sent to the administrator on three or more separate occasions. Nick Sabatalo’s name is on that list, with an asterisk.

I debated for some time what to do about the profile I wrote on him last September. I admit I initially had slight misgivings about the list. As the administrator explained, sexually inappropriate behavior encompassed everything from pressuring models into nude shoots to making advances to rape. Still, inappropriate behavior is inappropriate behavior. This statement should not be construed as a suggestion that I know exactly what Sabatalo may or may not have done. Rather, it’s two things. At this point, it’s mostly an explanation of why I left the profile standing. I briefly considered removing it from the site, but I rejected that as self-serving and disrespectful. I fully own up to what I wrote. Sabatalo was, as I said in the acknowledgments, very kind and generous towards me. All of that is true; I didn’t write that because I thought I had to.

The operative phrase, however, is “towards me.” As the blacklist administrator said in an interview, “everyone has a different experience [with persons accused of misconduct]. They’re like, ‘Oh my god, that is my friend. I go hiking with him every weekend. He would never do that.’ It’s like, I’m so happy that he hasn’t assaulted you, but clearly he did someone to else.” I leave the profile mostly standing with a link to this note, because doing otherwise would be to pretend that I always knew of the allegations against Sabatalo and that I had never supported him. This is obviously not true. I admit fully that until now, I had supported a problematic person. I do not intend to do so again.

If allegations are made against any other past subjects, I will leave their profiles standing with a link to this post. I consider this somewhat akin to what some art museums have been quietly doing to plaques for paintings by or of problematic individuals: mentioning below a Founding Father’s portrait, for example, that he may have said some very nice and eloquent things about liberty, but was also an unrepentant slaveholder. I intend to leave the profile standing entirely as a record of something I wrote that I think is well-written, while also making it clear that I no longer support the individual about whom it was written.

This post should also be understood as a general statement on sexual misconduct. It is an enormous problem in the fashion industry and I applaud all who are working to end it and to break the silence surrounding it.

I’ve turned off comments, but if you still have questions or something you’d like to say, you can email profilesinphotography [at] gmail [dot] com. I will keep all correspondence completely confidential, regardless of its subject matter.

Peter W. Coulson, Editor-in-Chief

4 March 2018

As I said before: I will not respond to any emails whose authors did not read the full statement

[There used to be a link here to the list, but as I said before the author of the list took t down after receiving death threats against herself and her family. I have an archived version saved. I won’t post it here; email me if you want a copy.]

National resources for sexual assault survivors: https://www.rainn.org/national-resources-sexual-assault-survivors-and-their-loved-ones

The National Sexual Assault Hotline Telephone Hotline is 800.656.4673. More information on it can be found here.

What to do if you’ve been sexually harassed: http://www.feminist.org/911/harasswhatdo.html

A list of Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (E.E.O.C.) field offices: https://www.eeoc.gov/field/

Author: Peter W. Coulson

Writer and photographer from Baltimore and Los Angeles. Founder and editor-in-chief of Profiles in Photography.