Michael Antonov one of Oculus’ cofounders has been accused of sexual assault, by a woman who works within the VR industry.
Autumn Rose Taylor, who now holds the position of marketing director for established VR developer Owlchemy Labs, has released a statement on Twitter explaining that he touched her inappropriately while wearing a VR headset in a private demo several years ago.
In a series of Tweets over the last week, she provided details of how an important person she admired in the industry, and founder of a well-known VR hardware company, had invited her for a private demo while at GDC in San Francisco when she was student at college. When having this demo in his apartment, she said the man put his hand under her skirt and touched her inappropriately while she was trying the demo. She originally left Michael Antonov’s name out of the initial statement, but named him in her follow-up tweets.
I remember, at that same GDC, attending a VR party and meeting a founder/exec of a well-known VR hardware company who offered to show me unreleased demos. I was so excited but so naive! A friend had shown me their demo in their hotel, so I thought that was normal.
— Autumn Rose Taylor 🔜 #OC6 (@lusterly_) August 27, 2019
In a separate statement to Business Insider, she informed them that she had met Michael Antonov at 2016’s GDC industry after-party, which was her first industry event and she was happy to meet one of Oculus’ cofounders. With the consumer version of headset scheduled to release in the coming weeks, she said he offered to give her a private preview of the device.
Autumn Rose Taylor, explained to Business Insider;
“He offered to show me unreleased demos and games slated to launch with the Rift later that month,” Taylor said. “I didn’t think this was odd. Just the day prior, I tried a demo in the hotel room of someone I met at another VR mixer. It was a normal demo, nothing strange. Being new to the industry, I thought this was normal.”
She added after being touched she attempted to keep her distance from him, make little eye contact, and although initially scared to leave, she left as soon as possible.
“I felt uncomfortable and scared, but was afraid to refuse his advances — after all, he was a cofounder and executive for one of the biggest VR companies in the world,” Taylor said in her statement. “I was afraid of being blacklisted from the industry I had just joined and was so excited to be a part of. I was afraid of potentially severing a relationship between the VR company I worked for and Oculus. I was just… so afraid.”
She informed Business Insider that she was motivated to speak about this experience after multiple woman in the gaming industry have shared their encounters with sexually abusive men.
Here at The VR Realm, we feel this is very important subject and awareness of this sort of abuse in any industry needs to be taken seriously.