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Mignogna Deposition: Vic Mignogna Admits to Pulling Monica Rial's Hair, Denies Kissing Her

posted on by Lynzee Loveridge

A transcript of voice actor Vic Mignogna's deposition from his ongoing lawsuit against Funimation, voice actresses Jamie Marchi and Monica Rial, and Rial's fiancee Ronald Toye reveals the actor's responses to questioning regarding alleged incidents involving Rial.

The Bulma voice actress claimed in a public Twitter post in February that Mignogna would "take a fist full of my hair, pull my head back, and either whisper so closely to my ear that his lips were touching or kiss my cheek/neck," that she and others have witnessed Mignogna performing the same actions to both colleagues and fans, and another incident where she claimed that Mignogna had forcibly kissed her in his hotel room during a convention in the mid-2000s, after Mignogna invited Rial to his room supposedly to watch a video.

Attorney J. Sean Lemoine of Wick Phillips and Casey S. Erick of Cowles & Thompson are representing both Rial and Toye.

Lemoine questioned Mignogna about the incidents during a deposition held on June 26.

Mignogna stated he was contacted by Sony's Tammi Denbow during Funimation's internal investigation in January. Denbow asked Mignogna about a situation at a convention where Rial signed a jellybean with her name in front of a crowd. Mignogna ate the jellybean and said Rial commented that he would "get ink poisoning". According to Mignogna, he joked that he could say that he "ate Monica Rial." Mignogna characterized the interaction as silly.

"You know, I mean, they're fans and they're all laughing and thought it was funny," Mignogna said. Mignogna stated that Denbow did not reference Rial's other allegations during their discussion. Denbow also asked Mignogna about two other incidents not involving Rial. Denbow advised Mignogna not to contact the individuals who made the allegations, however Mignogna stated he did reach out to Rial via e-mail on February 8 after her initial tweets about an incident. He said she did not respond to his e-mail.

Rial's own account of jellybean incident is redacted from her deposition. Rial's deposition differs from Mignogna's regarding what incident was described to Denbow. According to Rial, the discussion did not center on the jellybean incident, but an alleged forceful kiss that took place in Mignogna's hotel room. During Mignogna's deposition, Lemoine stated Rial said that the alleged kiss in Mignogna's hotel room took place in 2007 at Izumicon in Oklahoma City. Mignogna says he does not recall any time in the last eight years that he and Rial were alone in his hotel room together, denied ever kissing her in his hotel room, and denied that he kissed Rial on Sunday, November 4, 2007 during Izumicon.

Lemoine describes the incident from Rial's written discovery:

Plaintiff played videos promised, while Defendant stood to watch video. The Plaintiff soon grabbed the Defendant by the upper arms and began aggressively kissing Defendant. Defendant attempted to resist, but Plaintiff physically restrained Defendant, pushed Defendant back towards -- backward toward the bed. Plaintiff climbed on top of Defendant and held her down as he continued to aggressively kiss Defendant. Plaintiff continued in this fashion for several minutes, despite Defendant's fear and shock, until Mr. [Stan] Dahlin knocked on the Plaintiff's hotel door. Plaintiff left Defendant on the bed and hurriedly answered the door. Mr. Dahlin inquired whether the Defendant was okay, clearly noticing the stress. Defendant, however, was too shocked and afraid to admit what had occurred.

Mignogna reiterated that he did not recall the event taking place.

Stan Dahlin was one of the convention chairmen of Izumicon in 2007. According to Rial's interrogatory, he invited both Mignogna and Rial to dinner and arrived at the room during the incident so the party could proceed to where they planned to eat. An affidavit by Dahlin has been referenced on social media and appeared on a livestream but Anime News Network was not able to locate an official court filing of the affidavit as of this writing.

Lemoine also questioned Mignogna regarding allegations that he pulled the back of Rial's hair and whispered in her ear. Mignogna stated that he did grab and pull Rial's hair but denied whispering in her ear. He characterized the interaction as "playful."

Mignogna stated that he was not aware of any conventions canceling his appearances based on conversations between convention staff and Marchi, Rial, Toye, or Funimation persuading the events to do so. He offered that the public statements by Marchi and Rial influenced event organizers' decisions.

"They [event staff] didn't call me and say, 'Jamie Lynn Marchi and Monica Rial', you know what I mean, 'contacted us', but they did tell me that it was the public comments by the voice actors that led them to ultimately cancel me," Mignogna said.

Voice Actor Chuck Huber Drafts Statement for Mignogna to Admit Sex Addiction

Voice actor Chuck Huber (Dragon Ball Z's Android 17), a friend according to Mignogna, drafted an e-mail on March 6 that would serve as a statement by Mignogna on the grounds that Rial and Marchi recanted their public statements. Mignogna denied giving Huber permission to draft the e-mail or overseeing its content. Huber's e-mail reads:

My name is Vic Mignogna and I am a sex addict. Addict behavior is, by its nature, is hurtful and mostly unseen by the addict. I am working with a therapist to understand my addiction and to get healthy. I have never intended to hurt anyone but it so obvious now that I did. To the people I hurt, there are no words that will suffice. All I can say is that this experience has permanently moved me toward a better path and I am doing my best to be a better person.

I am sorry and will make amends wherever possible. To the fans who continue to harass and threaten, you are not my fans if you do this. Your behavior needs to change every bit as much as mine does. Like me, you should be given the opportunity to change. I am working everyday to be the same on the outside as I am on the inside. I only ask for the opportunity to demonstrate that I have changed and to continue the work I so dearly love. I am canceling my appearance at Anime Matsuri and am taking a leave from all convention appearances until, in conjunction with my therapist, I am ready to come back. I will take my recovery and return one day at a time.

Mignogna denied in the deposition that he is a sex addict or has every received treatment for sexual addiction. He stated that Huber told him Rial and Marchi did not accept the terms he put forth in the e-mail to issue the statement. Additionally, Huber drafted proposed statements for Rial, Marchi, and Toye.

From Monica Rial, Jamie Marchi, Ron Toye

Things have gotten out of hand and some form of working together is the only way to solve the split that has fractured the fandom we all love. This statement intends to start that healing process. Some of the ways we have spoken out against Vic have been over the top, and have done harm to victims of sexual assault by making it more difficult for them to come forward. So many of you have reached out to us to tell your stories not related to Vic and we encourage you to continue. We agree that everyone has a right to demonstrate that they've changed and that Vic should be given that opportunity. Our zeal to protect all victims of sexual assault, moved by heightened social attention, has caused us to misunderstand and misstate stories regarding Vic indicating they were akin to criminal offenses when they were inappropriate advances. Our intention has never been to destroy Vic but to help him realize his behavior and to lift up victims who have been hurt. We are willing start again and we ask everyone to join us.

Funimation

We have reconsidered our decision and Vic will continue in the roles he has played for so many years. At this point he will not be available for casting in any new properties but we are willing to give him a second chance, with proper oversight, for the sake of the fandom. He is sincere in his efforts to look at his behavior and we intend to support those good efforts. We have implemented training for voice actors surrounding fan interactions and social media. We will expect more of ourselves as a company while expecting better from our artists. There are no winners in this fight and the ones who lose are you, our fans.

100% of Vic's gofundme has been matched quadruple by Funimation and $512,000 has been jointly donated to RAINN in the name of all Anime Fans.

(Vic pays legal fees out of pocket)

Rial responded to Huber's proposed statement as "unacceptable." She asked Huber if he had discussed any of the proposed statements and dropping the lawsuits with Mignogna's legal team. Huber responded, "Sean [Schemmel] and Chris [Sabat] are not going to show up in court for you. You will be on your own. You have a chance to walk away gracefully and let the lawyers fight with companies if that is the end result. Anyone egging you on toward the suit does not have your best interests at heart nor your financial responsibility. The lawyers are indifferent to this negotiation and it is solely my own...as you'd expect from me."

Anime News Network has reached out to Huber for comment but he did not respond by press time.

Motion to Dismiss

Funimation, Marchi, and Monica Rial and Ronald Toye have filed separate anti-SLAPP motions to dismiss Mignogna's suits against them. Rial and Toye filed a motion dismiss the the case based on Texas Citizen's Participation Act (TCPA) on July 19. The act is the state of Texas's law to protect individuals from Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation (SLAPP) lawsuits. A "SLAPP suit" is a lawsuit designed to hinder individual(s) from speaking freely, but is otherwise without merit, under threat of the suit itself or its potential financial cost. According to TexasLawHelp.org: "The lawsuit can be filed by the plaintiff on different grounds (reasons) like libel or tortious interference, but the point of a SLAPP suit is to silence the defendant regardless of whether the lawsuit has merit."

If the court dismisses the case under the TCPA, Rial and Toye could be awarded the cost of their attorney fees. Rial and Toye are also seeking financial sanctions against Mignogna. Lemoine writes that Mignogna is a public figure and the lawsuit is "an all-out assault on Ms. Rial's and Toye's right of free speech to comment on a matter of public concern, i.e. Plaintiff's conduct with children and women both in public and — more insidiously — behind closed doors."

Lemoine argues that Mignogna has failed to show clear and specific evidence necessary to establish all the elements of his claims of defamation, tortious interference with contracts, and tortious interference with prospective business relations, conspiracy against Rial and Toye. Lemoine also asserts that Mignogna is libel proof, arguing that rumors of Mignogna's alleged conduct have followed him for years and thus he cannot ascertain damages. Mignogna stated during his deposition that did not know how much in damages he is seeking in his lawsuit and could not put an amount on damages incurred due to actions by the defendants.


Lawsuit Background

Mignogna filed the lawsuit against Funimation and the other defendants on April 18. In the lawsuit, Mignogna claims defamation, interference in existing contracts and prospective business relations, and civil conspiracy over the defendants' Twitter posts and Funimation's investigation against Mignogna for alleged sexual harassment.

Mignogna is seeking "monetary relief over $1,000,000.00" in part due to Funimation no longer contracting him for future productions, as well as conventions canceling his appearances. Mignogna and his lawyer are also seeking "judgment against the Defendants for actual, consequential and punitive damages according to the claims ... in amounts to be determined on final hearing, pre- and post-judgment interest at the highest rate permitted by law, and costs of court" in addition to "such other and further relief to which he may be justly or equitably entitled" and "general relief."

Mignogna is represented by Ty Beard of Beard Harris Bullock Hughes in Tyler, Texas.

Mignogna has been accused by a number of con attendees of kissing and embracing them without consent over the course of his career, with some allegations dating back to 2008. These allegations spread on social media earlier this year. Fellow voice actors have publicly issued anecdotes of their personal experiences with Mignogna or support for those speaking out via social media.

Rooster Teeth has replaced Mignogna in the cast of RWBY. Many of Mignogna's convention appearances have been canceled.

Mignogna issued an apology at the Bak-Anime event in early February, and posted a public statement later that month. On February 21, Mignogna posted another statement on Twitter that read, "I have now very reluctantly retained a law firm as my last and only recourse to attempt to salvage my reputation and my 20-year career in this industry."

Source: re:Search Texas


This article has a follow-up: Mignogna Deposition: Fan Interactions and The Affidavits (2019-07-29 14:59)
follow-up of Mignogna Deposition: The Funimation Investigation
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