Mignogna Deposition: Fan Interactions and The Affidavits
posted on by Lynzee Loveridge
In Anime News Network's original reporting on January 30, convention attendees shared several stories of interactions with voice actor Vic Mignogna that they felt were inappropriate, including nonconsensual embraces and kisses, sometimes for photographs, and comments on their body. Individuals in the story ranged in age from 14 to 18, including a 15-year-old who received Mignogna's personal phone number and was able to chat with him repeatedly, unsupervised.
Mignogna discussed his interactions with fans during his deposition on June 26. He was questioned by Monica Rial and Ronald Toye's lawyer Sean Lemoine about kissing underage convention attendees for photographs. Mignogna said that he no longer hugs or kisses underage fans for photos. He stated that he will allow fans who are "clearly adults" hug him if they ask and he verifies that a staff member heard the request.
Lemoine asked Mignogna if he agreed that kissing children is "creepy" which Mignogna denied.
Lemoine: Do you agree with me that's kind of creepy, right?
Q. Not creepy?
A. Not when they ask you.
Q. I mean, is there an age limit in which a child can ask you to kiss and hug on them and you say that's creepy?
A. You see, when you say kiss, it sounds like something sexual, but somebody who is kissing a child on the forehead or the cheek as a symbol of kindness or appreciation, is not meant in any sexual way.
Q. Besides yourself, do you know any 50-year-old men that kiss children on the cheek or forehead that aren't their children?
A. I'm sure there are many.
Q. I'm just asking if you know one.
A. No. I never thought to need to keep a record of that. I don't.
Lemoine further asked when it would be appropriate for a man of Mignogna's age to kiss a 14-year-old girl. Mignogna initially states "when it is requested" but follows up that that was his previous opinion and that he did not consider the act sexual. Mignogna admits that he knew people were commenting negatively on the photos of him kissing attendees but that he continued to pose in that manner regardless.
Discussions online and via word of mouth have hinted that conventions had "blacklisted" Mignogna from ever returning, but attempts to follow up on these allegations proved fruitless. That changed on July 1 when Monica Rial and Ronald Toye filed their joint motion to dismiss Mignogna's lawsuit. Attached to over 500-page legal document are 12 affidavits; sworn statements from Mignogna's voice acting peers, convention heads and staff, and alleged victims.
Some accounts of alleged victims and witnesses will be referred to by only their first names to protect their privacy. It should be noted that with the exception of Jamie Marchi and Monica Rial, Mignogna denied pulling women's hair. The allegation that Mignogna has grabbed a woman's hair and pulled back her head occurs in two affidavits with additional affidavits by witnesses. Including Rial and Marchi, approximately five different women have accused Mignogna of this behavior.
The earliest incident outlined in the affidavits involves a former 16-year-old theater student ("Michelle") and fellow parishioner at Mignogna's church in Lynchburg, Virginia.
"I was cast in the school play of Mouse Trap by Agatha Christi [sic] where I was first introduced to Victor Mignogna during our rehearsals. Mignogna was helping with the production of this play and an assistant to the directors," she said. Michelle stated that on several occasions, Mignogna requested that she stay after rehearsals when other students and teachers were no longer present. She stated that he rehearsed more and also played "love songs" on the piano for her.
She alleged that after working together on the high school play in 1989, Mignogna frequented Michelle's summer job, an ice cream parlor. One day that summer, she said that he pulled along side her in his car while she was riding her bike and invited the then high school sophomore to his home to watch a "Christian worship video". Upon arriving, Michelle says he went into his bedroom and came back out shirtless and in "very small and revealing shorts." Michelle said it was at this time she realized there was no "Christian worship video."
Michelle states that Mignogna sat next her on the couch, put his arm around her, put his tongue in her ear, and played with her hair. She says that he stated "Let's just enjoy each other." Michelle protested and told him that she needed to go home. Eventually, she stated that he stopped and became "extremely upset at me and incredibly rude." She left his home to report the incident to her youth minister but he was not at his office.
Mignogna stated in his deposition that he was an English and speech teacher at Trinity Christian Academy in Jacksonville, Florida and does not remember whether he resigned or was terminated from his job there. He denied knowledge of allegations of misconduct at the academy. He stated he did not know Michelle.
Kara Edwards may be known best as the voice behind Dragon Ball Z's Goten and Videl. In her affidavit, Edwards talks about her friendship with Mignogna and how she initially felt comfortable with him. While attending Animazement 2008 in North Carolina, the colleagues worked out together at the hotel gym and "goofed off" at panels. Edwards stated that some of this ease came from her assumption that Mignogna was gay and would not be romantically interested in her. It was not until Sunday, May 25 that Edwards stated that her initial impression of Mignogna changed.
"Mignogna and I were staying in the same hotel, in rooms next door to each other, for the Animazement convention. Our rooms shared an internal door. On Sunday night, we walked backed [sic] to our hotel rooms together after closing ceremonies and said goodbye. Mignogna proceeded to give me a hug that went on for a really long time and made me feel uncomfortable," Edwards said. "This is when I realized that Mignogna wanted more from me than friendship. I realized I'd made a mistake in being so friendly."
After the hug, Edwards went into her room and phoned her husband. After the call ended, she said she heard knocking on the shared door between her and Mignogna's room. She did not answer the door. The knocking ended and was followed by a phone call to the hotel room. Edwards said she answered the phone and Mignogna said, "Open the door. Nobody has to know." Edwards said she declined, reminded him that she was married, and hung up. She said that Mignogna returned to knocking on the door and calling through it "creepily," "You know you want this."
Edwards said she hid in the bathroom with the shower running for about an hour. The following morning she stated that she reported the incident to multiple Funimation voice actors.
After encountering Mignogna again at a convention in 2008 without incident, Edwards said she "had no reason...to suspect anything like what had happened in Raleigh [sic: Animazement is an annual convention in Raleigh but was in Durham in 2008] would happen again." Edwards said that she and Mignogna were in the hotel on their way to a convention event when he told her he needed something from his hotel room to show her. Edwards did not suspect that Mignogna maintained a sexual interest in her.
Edwards said she entered the hotel room and they sat on separate pieces of furniture while Mignogna inquired about Edwards' divorce. Following his questions, Edwards said that Mignogna sat on the floor in front of her and began "rubbing my thighs and buttocks" while saying "let me bet sweet to you" in a voice Edwards described as "creepy" and "seductive". Edwards attempted to leave but said that Mignogna embraced her in an attempt to "console me about my divorce." She said Mignogna continued to block her exit while holding his face close to hers and repeating "let me be sweet to you" multiple times.
"I will never forget what he said as long as I live because it was so disturbing and creepy," Edwards said. She was eventually able to leave the hotel room.
The following evening Edwards and Mignogna returned to the hotel after having dinner with a friend of Edwards. They encountered a convention staffer named Mary Reese and her son in the lobby. Edwards said Mignogna demanded to escort Edwards to her hotel room, grabbing her arm and pulling her away. She obliged in order to avoid causing a scene.
"When I got to my hotel room, Mignogna asked to come inside and I told him no," Edwards said. She brought up Mignogna's long-time fianceé Michele Specht, hinting that they were friends. Mignogna walked away. Edwards would relay the alleged incidents at Animazement and ShadoCon to Reese the following day, including her fear that Mignogna would negatively affect her career. That same day, Edwards said Mignogna requested her autograph line, which scheduled at the same time and in the same room, be moved to another room.
Mignogna responded publicly to Edwards' account in an article published by io9 on February 19. In the article, Mignogna claims that the encounter between he and Edwards at ShadoCon was consensual and that they shared a bottle of wine and kissed before Edwards asked him to stop. Edwards denied Mignogna's account, stated that they never drank wine together or consensually kissed.
Despite Edwards stating that she told multiple actors at Funimation following the alleged incidents, she was cast in a project directed by Mignogna as recently as 2018. She said that she did not know Mignogna was directing the project until she arrived to record and following the session, she said Mignogna texted her to ask her to dinner. She said she agreed to "avoid fallout" but did not meet with him. The next time Funimation contacted Edwards for one of Mignogna's projects, she requested a different director.
Reese is an experienced guest relations staffer for anime conventions and was Mignogna's assistant and handler at several cons over the course of nine years. She first met Mignogna at ShadoCon in 2010 and was continually assigned to work with him at events because of her age and "personal experience watching him interact with fans and young girls, in particular, and I know what he is capable of."
Reese said in her affidavit that Mignogna makes advances on women in their early 20s and teenagers. Like Edwards, Reese said she was initially under the impression that Mignogna was gay but now believes that he adopts mannerisms to give that impression to "trick females to trust him more."
Specifically, Reese says she has seen Mignogna adapt his behavior and voice depending on who he is talking to and says he will act more feminine to appear non-threatening to fans. She says outside of these situations he is demanding to staff and his assistants, is a "bully," and will make staff members cry.
Reese corroborated Edwards' account of Mignogna taking her arm in the hotel lobby and leading her to her room and the change in Edwards' autograph location on Sunday. Reese also stated that Edwards discussed the incident that allegedly occurred in Mignogna's hotel room with her.
Reese mentions an additional incident involving Edwards and Mignogna at a convention where she says she witnessed Mignogna grab Edwards "by the back of the head, pull her hair and her head backward forcibly." Reese characterized the incident as flirting by Mignogna and that he pulled her back while suggesting that "pose as if they were on the cover of a romance novel." Mignogna asked Reese to photograph the pose. She said she witnessed Edwards lean as far away from Mignogna as possible to "avoid getting a possible kiss" from him.
Reese says that Mignogna also kissed her for a photograph without her consent at METROCON 2017 in Tampa, Florida.
Mignogna admitted in his deposition that he has occasionally yelled at convention staffers but that it was not a "regular pattern."
Anime News Network has a larger piece detailing the events that allegedly occurred involving Mignogna, Tekkoshocon staff members, three underage female attendees, and voice actress Mari Iijima. Click here to read.
Neysha was part of a Star Trek-themed dance group known as "Orion's Envy". The group was invited as guests of Bayou Con in Lake Charles, Louisiana in 2013. Following Orion Envy's performance at the con, Neysha met Mignogna who was a fellow guest at the convention. Mignogna was hosting a panel and screening of his fan-series Star Trek Continues. During the screening, Neysha says Mignogna pulled up a chair to sit next to Orion's Envy member, Dayna. Neysha says she witnessed Mignogna put his hand on Dayna's leg and stroke her leg repeatedly. According to the affidavit, Dayna repeatedly tried to cover and leg.
That evening Orion's Envy was invited to a hotel party hosted by a Bayou Con staff member. Neysha stated that Mignogna was also at the party and approached Dayna again. During this incident, Neysha says "Mignogna walked up to Dayna, grasped her hair from the back with his hand, aggressively pull her backwards, and whisper in her ear." Neysha said that Dayna was very noticeably upset. Following the party, members of the group formed a buddy system to ensure no member was alone with Mignogna.
Mignogna stated in his deposition that he did not know Neysha.
Emmett Plant is a producer of multiple official Star Trek audiobooks. He is also a writer with articles published in Salon, The Wall Street Journal, and Gawker Media's io9.com. He was previously the editor-in-chief of Linux.com. Plant's work on Star Trek led to a guest invitation at Louisana's Bayou Con in 2013 where he met his now girlfriend, Neysha. Plant said that he witnessed Mignogna pull Dayna's hair so that her head came back in a downward motion. Plant said he saw Mignogna "hiss something" in Dayna's ear. Plant corroborated that the Orion's Envy group formed a buddy system at the convention after the alleged hair-pulling took place.
Mignogna stated in his deposition that he did not know Plant.
A 27-year-old artist ("Kelly") at Kawaii Kon 2014 in Hawaii was cosplaying as Ren Mihashi from the anime Big Wind-up. Kelly entered the autograph line for Mignogna in the hopes he would sign a box of chocolate macademia nuts for her friend who was a fan. When it was Kelly's turn for an autograph she described Mignogna as calling her "princess" in a "seductive voice". Kelly agreed to take a photo with Mignogna for her friend and he posed next to her in a series of pictures that Kelly described as more and more intimate.
"Mignogna was very handsy with me by grabbing me and holding me in a tight embrace flush against his body. That was the first picture. After taking the first picture I stated, 'Well my friend's going to be angry,' because I know that she would be jealous I met Mignogna. Then Mignogna said, 'Oh, let's make her really angry.' I did not know what Mignogna meant, and he told me to 'look at the camera again.' He tricked me and gave me a big and long kiss on my cheek for the second photo," Kelly said. "I remember thinking, 'is something wrong with you? I am here for my friend. I am not a fan of yours."
Kelly reported the incident to Kawaii Kon on January 19, 2019 and to convention's CEO Faisal Ahmed on January 27. Kelly said that after Kawaii Kon investigated the incident, Mignogna was permanently banned from the convention. Ahmed informed Kelly of the decision.
Kawaii Kon and Anime Weekend Atlanta CEO Faisal Ahmed recounted an incident at the Georgia convention where one of the convention's volunteer guest relations staff was allegedly forcibly kissed by Mignogna around 2015. Ahmed describes the volunteer, Erica, as a fan of the voice actor but after working with him requested to no longer be assigned to him. Ahmed says she stated, "he was not who I thought he was." He said he later learned from a third party that the volunteer was allegedly kissed without consent by Mignogna.
Ahmed also separately corroborated that he received Kelly's reports about the incident at Kawaii Kon 2014 and an additional incident reported by a cosplayer named Leah that occurred at the same event. Leah was in a committed relationship but was, by Ahmed's account, "aggressively pursued" by Mignogna despite her rejecting him. Ahmed and other management staff voted to ban Mignogna from both Kawaii Kon and Anime Weekend Atlanta.
Since the affidavits became public, a Twitter account claiming to be the volunteer named Erica has disputed Ahmed's account. She publicly stated that while she did ask to no longer be assigned to Mignogna at events, he did not forcibly kiss her.
Mignogna stated he knew Ahmed as a convention runner but not on a personal level.
Crunchyroll's director of events Adam Sheehan previously worked at Funimation from 2004 to 2014 where he was responsible for booking some of Mignogna's convention appearances. In Sheehan's affidavit, he does not point to any particular instances of misbehavior by Mignogna but does speak of how the voice actor behaves at conventions in general. According to Sheehan, he has knowledge of studios outside of Funimation that chose not work with Mignogna due to his difficult behavior. Sheehan also specifically mentioned locks that were placed on doors within Funimation that were referred to by staff colloquially as "Vic locks."
Anime News Network CEO Christopher Macdonald stated on Twitter that he took a tour of the offices after the locks were installed and while he didn't personally hear them referred to as "Vic locks" during his visit, Mignogna's name did come up in reference to the locks.
Sheehan stated that he believes Mignogna has serial predatory tendencies.
"I have heard countless stories from others about his inappropriate behavior at conventions," Sheehand said. "I have witnessed Mignogna hugging, kissing, and touching fans (including minors) in a way that I believe is inappropriate." Sheehan believes Mignogna intentionally puts his hands on women's bodies.
Mignogna acknowledged that he knew Sheehan but not well enough to judge whether he was an honest person or not.
Specht was a co-star on Mignogna's fan series Star Trek Continues, a voice actor, and in a relationship with Mignogna for 12 years. Specht and Mignogna became engaged in 2010 until they broke up in May 2018. The couple lived together in Los Angeles for approximately a decade. Specht's affidavit includes e-mails exchanged between herself and Mignogna in March 2019. In Specht's initial e-mail she outlines her feelings of betrayal over what she thought was a monogamous relationship. She accuses Mignogna of exchanging sexually explicit messages, images, and videos with "countless women," including "strangers, acquaintances, fans, and 'friends'" and claims he had sexual encounters with some of them.
"You systematically targeted dozens upon dozens of fangirls (most at least half your age) with whom you first built trust - some over long periods of time online, some in a manner of minutes in person - and made each one feel so very special and ‘chosen’ with the endless charm, attention, and mask of sincerity that abounds when you want something - seduced them, propositioned them, and turned them into convention fucks - doing so in every city and every country you went to - calling me afterward like you always did before you went to bed (sometimes with them still in the room)… but you loved me, right?"
Specht outlines in the e-mail that she has been contacted by other women who claimed to have had nonconsensual encounters with Mignogna. She specified that one fan that reached out to her was underage at the time of "her 'experience'" with him. Specht also said that more than one of the women who came forward were part of the Star Trek Continues production.
Specht states that Mignogna didn't use condoms during these encounters. She also accuses Mignogna using friends to schedule him services with sex workers during out of town events. Mignogna admitted to hiring a sex worker during his deposition. He also admitted to having between five to 50 sexual encounters with other women.
Specht described additional long-term romantic relationships that she says Mignogna maintained during their relationship by using alternate names in phone contacts and that he would fly these other women to events he was attending. Specht stated that she had confronted Mignogna with her own allegations and those shared with her by others and that Mignogna would "be offended and affronted [...] respond in anger and sometimes aggression."
Mignogna responded to Specht's e-mail on March 19.
"I am only now beginning to understand the depth of the pain I caused you, and the weight of it is nearly unbearable. I'm so ashamed and so deeply sorry. Those words don't even come close to sufficing. I'm working with a counselor and am fully committed to healing. There is so much I want to say, but I need to get further along in this process to have a clearer perspective.
I do hope you're praying for me vs. for my destruction.
this article has been modified since it was originally posted; see change history