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Convention Runner Ryan Kopf Banned from Anime Milwaukee Following Alleged Sexual Assault

posted on by Anime News Network Team
AMKE staff allege Kopf was immediately removed from convention, Kopf denies any incident or ejection took place

Anime Milwaukee (AMKE) staff confirmed with Anime News Network that Ryan Kopf, the chief executive officer of the AnimeCon.org convention organization, is banned from future Anime Milwaukee conventions following an incident that took place during the 2018 convention between February 16-18 at the Hyatt Regency Milwaukee hotel. Police were called to the hotel to respond to an alleged sexual assault involving Kopf.

Anime Milwaukee staff issued the following statement to Anime News Network on June 25:

As the leadership of Anime Milwaukee, we take safety standards seriously. That is why we, AMKE's parent non-profit organization (the Entertainment and Culture Promotion Society, Inc.) are choosing to come forward about an incident that happened at our show, and the preventative action we have taken since.

Anime Milwaukee can confirm there was an incident involving Mr. Kopf, a representative of Anime Midwest, at AMKE 2018. In this case, per protocol, Milwaukee PD were called by Hyatt staff. Convention staff also responded to assist the attendee as needed, until we were dismissed by police upon their arrival. Our details are pretty sparse from there, since this became a matter for law enforcement personnel. For our part, Mr. Kopf was immediately banned from Anime Milwaukee for 2018 and all future years. He is not permitted to attend AMKE in any capacity. We were also informed that the Hyatt Regency Milwaukee banned him from their property.

Our convention chair at the time, Corey Wood, acted decisively to ensure Mr. Kopf, all associated events staff, and promotional materials were ejected fully from Anime Milwaukee events space.

Anime Milwaukee often does reciprocal convention ‘swaps’ for badges, a promotional table, program book advertisements, etc. All representatives are required to honor convention policies. This was a clear violation; we have not partnered with nor will we promote Anime Midwest or any other events affiliated with Mr. Kopf.

We recognize that this was an instance where our safety policies fell short and we are taking all feedback to heart. At AMKE 2019 this past year, we made sure to step up communication, ensuring attendees would know what to do should they need assistance. We also increased the visibility of our staff, so attendees knew how to find someone if help was needed. As we have done for multiple years now, we coordinate directly with Milwaukee police, private security and venue security.

For AMKE 2020, we will continue to introduce new policies and tools. The safety of our attendees and staff is our number one priority. We welcome your feedback and criticisms at [email protected]

Entertainment and Culture Promotion Society (ECPS) Board of Directors Timothy Huesmann, Convention Chair

Anime News Network sent a records request to the Milwaukee Police Department on April 4 to obtain the police report. The police department declined to share the report, citing the victim's right to privacy per the Wisconsin Constitution. The police department's response reads:

"...I have determined that the public disclosure of the responsive sexual assault records would constitute an invasion of the right of privacy of the victim or victim's family members, and would cause further emotional and mental distress, as well as representing a potential outrage to the community's notion of decency. Thus we have denied your request for sexual assault records."

Anime News Network has obtained a case number for the police report but cannot offer any further details regarding the incident at this time.

The same insider stated that Anime Milwaukee 2018's con chair Corey Wood was made aware of concerns by fellow staff members prior to Kopf attending the event. Some of those concerns included previous allegations of sexual misconduct by Kopf. After hearing these concerns, the insider stated Wood went ahead with allowing Kopf to attend the convention as he had not violated any of Anime Milwaukee's own policies during previous AMKE events. The source added that Kopf purchased ad space in the Anime Milwaukee 2018 program guide worth roughly US$2,000, although they stated he may have paid more.

Wood was not the convention chair for Anime Milwaukee 2019. He will serve as the con's Director of Facilities for the 2020 convention. Anime News Network reached out to Wood via e-mail and he provided the following statement:

During the time I was convention chair, we had no set standards on how to handle a situation like what arose at our 2018 convention. We responded immediately to the situation and tried to rectify the issue as best we could. Anime Milwaukee has since put policies in place to better ensure the safety of the attendees. I have also applied this lesson to my own personal work with Corgi Events.

Kopf was previously named in a police report alleging he committed forcible rape at the Clarion Hotel in Davenport, Iowa on May 3, 2013. The police report states the incident occurred during an anime convention run by Kopf and the victim was a member of the convention's volunteer staff. AnimeCon.org's Anime-zing! convention was taking place at the Clarion Hotel in 2013.

According to the report, the alleged victim stated Kopf asked her to drink with him which she agreed to, presuming they would be drinking in a public area. The report goes on to say that Kopf grabbed her and pulled her into his hotel room where he allegedly bit her repeatedly and groped her despite her protests before pushing her on to the hotel room bed and penetrating her repeatedly. Police classified the alleged assault as "Sexual Abuse in the 3rd Degree - Forcible Rape".

Sexual abuse in the 3rd degree is a Class C felony in the state of Iowa punishable by a prison term of up to 10 years, and a minimum fine of US$1,000 and a maximum fine of US$10,000.

Police took the alleged victim to a hospital to process a rape kit, but she declined. The injuries to her neck were photographed by police but she declined to press charges.

Kopf was not arrested and no charges were filed for the Davenport incident. There is no arrest record or charges listed for the alleged sexual assault in Milwaukee.

Anime News Network reached out to Kopf for comment on alleged incidents at Anime Milwaukee 2018 and Anime-zing! 2013. Kopf denied he was removed from the Anime Milwaukee 2018 event or that any incident took place. He also denied anything improper took place at Anime-zing 2013.

"When attending Anime Milwaukee in 2018, I was always in the company of at least one of my staff members. We were not approached by anyone and we were not asked to leave. The precise nature of these allegations remain [sic] unclear to me. I have not done anything improper at either of these events, and I fully intend to pursue holding accountable those who have continued to repeat defamatory statements about me," Kopf wrote.

Since Anime Milwaukee 2018, further allegations of sexual misconduct by alleged victims were posted on social media. Kopf issued a public statement on social media on Monday in response to one specific allegation of rape that was said to have taken place while on a company trip to Japan in 2016. In his response, Kopf stated that the event was consensual and suggested the allegation was the result of a disagreement between himself and the woman regarding a third party that took place during the trip.

In his post Kopf also says he has a video recording of himself having consensual sex with a woman he claims is the accuser during the Japan trip and included a link that he claims is audio from the video. Anime News Network has chosen not to link to this social media post due to the potential harm to the alleged victim.

Kopf was previously scheduled to host a panel related to technology at the Project Anime presentations during Anime Expo 2019, but his programming was removed on June 19. A representative from Anime Expo's SPJA clarified with Anime News Network that Kopf was only scheduled to host a single panel and that it was cancelled due to a lack of additional speakers for the topic.

AnimeCon.org runs the AniMinneapolis and Meta Con conventions in Minneapolis, Anime-ZAP! in Peoria, Illinois, Kanpai!Con in Omaha, Anime Midwest and Con+Alt+Delete in Rosemont, Illinois, and QC Anime-zing! in Davenport, Iowa.

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