UPDATED: Law and Disorder: Mignogna's Counsel Files, Rescinds Affidavits in 3 Days
posted on by Lynzee Loveridge
Update 09/04/19: In an audio interview with Jason of Maven Collectibles published in February 2019, Stephanie Nadolny said that in approximately December 2010 a female friend told her that she was being replaced in the Dragon Ball franchise. Nadolny states that she does not know why she was replaced.
"The director made a decision to make some changes and there's nothing I can do about it," Nadolny said. She stated that her last audition was with voice actor Mike McFarland in 2009 and it was the last time she heard from anyone at Funimation.
"I'm still very hurt by it," Nadolny said. "I was blindsided. No one explained anything to me." Nadolny goes on to say that she suspected her dismissal might have been in part due to a break-up with a man she was dating from 2003 to 2009.
"When we split, he absolutely, completely freaked out and his ego was affected, like 'I'm going to ruin your career.' He called all my employers and aired my business," Nadolny said. "I think that's what kind of led to me not being able to reprise my character." Nadolny described the situation as pushing her out of the "clique" within Funimation. She described the fall-out from the break-up as abusive and threatening.
In the interview, Nadolny stated she had at least three witnesses to her ex's behavior as well as e-mail evidence.
The Labor Day weekend filings for voice actor Vic Mignogna's ongoing civil court case against his former colleagues Monica Rial and Jamie Marchi, Rial's fiancee Ronald Toye, and Funimation had more twists than a David Lynch film. Following July's earlier filings by the defense, Mignogna's legal counsel Ty Beard was on a deadline to file his response by August 30, as previously agreed by both parties. Beard missed his deadline by a matter of minutes but what was filed would feed into a new round of rumors and speculation about the talent working at Funimation; at least until Monday, when Beard followed up with a notice to withdraw all three notarized affidavits due to "defects in form" - and the court judge ruled against his motion to strike the defense's evidence.
The defense has responded calling for sanctions and alleging illegal conduct by Beard and co-counsel Jim E. Bullock under suspicion that the affidavits, which were notarized by Beard himself, were falsified. In the state of Texas, a notarized document has to be signed in the presence of the notary. The defense's counsel is calling into question whether Mignogna, KamehaCon owner Christopher Slatosch, and voice actor Chuck Huber actually appeared in front of Ty Beard on August 30 when the documents were notarized. Slastoch was allegedly attending the San Japan Convention at that time, according to a photo with a timestamp on Instagram, located in San Antonio and approximately five hours away from Beard's office in Tyler, Texas.
Additionally, Beard filed a motion for the court to accept the late filing citing "technical issues" as the cause.The filing itself was 27 minutes past deadline, however the attached notification of submission error shows that Beard's partner Jim Bullock did not attempt to upload the files to the court system until 12:15 a.m on August 31.
Beard followed with a second amended petition on September 2 that included the previous affidavits, however they were no longer notarized like those included in the original filing.
Both of the plaintiff's petitions alleged that "Funimation Productions, LLC was amorous and sexually-charged for years" and cited Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt, an anime starring both Rial and Marchi, and Prison School as examples of the company's products. It's unclear what, if any, bearing a "sexually charged" atmosphere at Funimation would play into the validity of the mountain of accusations levied against Mignogna, but multiple former Funimation staff members that spoke with Anime News Network denied the characterization set forth in the Amended Petition.
Chuck Huber's affidavit included these accusations about the Funimation work environment and made multiple startling accusations involving Dragon Ball Z voice actor and OkraTron 5000 dubbing studio owner Christopher Sabat. Huber alleged that Sabat, who is not a defendant in the lawsuit, spoke poorly of Mignogna, referred to him as a "pedophile" as far back as 2003 or 2004, and criticized Mignogna for his acts of infidelity, Christian beliefs, political opinions, and behavior at work. Huber also alleged that failure to maintain a positive relationship with Sabat could lead to fewer roles for a voice actor and that employees treated Sabat as a "de facto manager."
Most alarming are Huber's allegations that roles at Funimation could be dependent on a voice actress' willingness to perform sexual favors. Huber does not outright state that he believes Sabat engaged in such behavior in his statement nor does he provide any evidence to support his claims. Instead, the document includes the claim followed by a series of statements regarding Huber's beliefs of Sabat's input in the casting decisions, including Dragon Ball Z.
When the Dragonball Kai was being recorded in 2007 [sic], I heard rumors that actresses had been recast at Funimation for refusing sexual advances by Funimation employees. I consider these rumors credible based on my experience working at Funimation and from direct messages received from a former DBZ cast member. I also heard that actresses who participated in sex with Funimation/Okatron5000 employees were cast in roles. I consider these rumors credible based on my experience working at Funimation...Chris Sabat is the owner of Okratron5000 and is a voice actor at Funimation. Chris Sabat did most of the casting and recording for the Dragon Ball Z properties including for the movie Dragon Ball Z: Super Broly. Chris Sabat engaged in negotiations, either directly or through Funimation for various projects with TOEI, owner of the Dragon Ball Z properties.
Sabat provided Anime News Network with the following statement regarding Huber's allegations.
"The recent allegations of sexual misconduct at Funimation and OkraTron 5000 are deeply disturbing and completely without merit. These libelous statements are based on groundless rumors and are meant to defame me and my company. Never in my career spanning two decades did I ever witness or participate in such conduct."
Anime News Network spoke with multiple former employees of Funimation regarding Huber's claims about the licensing company's allegedly sexually charged environment and the allegations against Sabat brought forth in Huber's affidavit. All the former employees denied any knowledge of a "casting couch" involving Sabat or anyone else working at Funimation.
At least three voice actresses did not reprise their roles in Dragon Ball Kai when recording began in approximately 2009. Monica Rial took over the role of Bulma, previously voiced by Tiffany Vollmer, and Colleen Clinkenbeard replaced Meredith McCoy as Android 18, and also replaced Stephanie Nadolny as Gohan. Sabat explained in 2016 that McCoy was replaced due to her move to Israel at the time and she has since come back and reprised her role as Android 18 in Dragon Ball Super and the later films. Vollmer retired from voice acting in approximately 2009 and later moved to Louisiana.
Sabat has not publicly stated why Nadolny was replaced in Dragon Ball Kai. She has actively expressed interest in returning to the role and has reached out to io9 journalist Beth Elderkin after the publication's piece of Vic Mignogna went live.
Anime News Network contacted Nadolny via social media but did not receive a response by press time. A former long-time Funimation employee told Anime News Network that they believed Nadolny was let go due to unprofessional and disruptive conduct in the recording booth.
One former long-time employee, who asked not to be named, disagreed with Huber's characterization that Sabat was treated like a "de facto manager" at Funimation, given that he is not an employee but a contractor for the company. They noted that Sabat doesn't maintain an office there and was only at Funimation if he needed to record his own lines. They believe that Sabat may have had input in the talent for the Dragon Ball franchise, but casting would be a group decision overall. Furthermore, they never heard of or saw Sabat solicit any female talent in exchange for roles.
The staffer attributed the poor opinion of Mignogna among his coworkers as due to his own behavior, not an "inherit bias", and that Mignogna was "difficult to worth with, rude, would derail recording sessions, asked for excessive retakes", and could be "snappy" at directors who attempted to give him input. While Huber cited Mignogna's religion as a point of contention, the staffer noted that there are other employees and talent that are known to belong to the Christian faith and have not encountered the same problems as Mignogna, including longtime Funimation talent Caitlin Glass.
The former staffer added that questions regarding Mignogna's sexuality were also spurred by the Fullmetal Alchemist voice actor's behavior. They said they were personally aware of at least three male Funimation employees or voice actors that felt uncomfortable due to Mignogna's "touchiness" with them approximately 12 years ago. They said the "pedophile" rumors began because of Mignogna's conduct at conventions. If staff had made complaints about Mignogna's behavior, the staffer did not hear these complaints directly.
They also took issue with Huber's statement that he is "intimately familiar with the work environment at Funimation" and said that the conversations Huber mentioned would be unlikely to occur at the Funimation offices due to how voice acting is conducted within the building. Voice actors are typically called in to record solo and would have limited interaction with one another at Funimation. The staffer stated that Huber's knowledge of the company's work environment would be limited to the audio side of the company where he would mostly interact with ADR directors, ADR engineers, and producers. They said they believe Huber is conflating conversations between voice actors at conventions as interactions within Funimation.
The staffer said that while there was raunchy comedy within Funimation, they never saw employees or voice talent kissing one another. Casual hugs as a greeting were common during their time at the company. Another staffer said they did not know of voice talent to sleep together and while employees did sometimes hook up, it wasn't "an epidemic."
Huber noted in his affidavit that the Funimation offices did not have sexual harassment policies posted and that he never received a handbook with information on Funimation's policies. According to three former staffers, full-time employees did receive employee handbooks and had to undergo mandatory sexual harassment training while at Funimation. These requirements may not have extended to Funimation's freelance contractors, including its voice talent. One former staffer cited this training as why they took issue with Huber's allegation that incidents described in Funimation's internal investigation happened off company property and thus may fall outside of its purview.
"If I meet with a co-worker at a bar off company time and that co-worker sexually harasses me, I still have the right to go to HR," they said. The former Funimation employee added that behavior at conventions would still be applicable, as a convention is considered a work-related event.
Huber's affidavit referred to a Funimation director characterizing the company as a “Den of Poison,” “Kafka Nightmare,” and “Orwellian Slave Factory.” A similar statement is mentioned in a review of the company on Glass Door, although the review isn't attributed to a Funimation director. The review using the phrase "Orwellian Nightmare" was posted on the site in 2016. Many of the reviews of Funimation on Glass Door are not favorable and two former employees that spoke to Anime News Network recalled hearing the company referred to in unflattering terms by staff, although not the same phrases that Huber mentioned.
Huber's affidavit also brought allegations against Goku voice actor Sean Schemmel and alleged that Schemmel asked Huber to participate in a "derogatory" video titled "Vince Mangina VA pedophile video" along with Sonny Strait at Yama-Con in 2013 in Tennessee. Huber stated that he refused to participate in the video. A former Funimation employee who spoke with Anime News Network stated that they never saw the video but would not be "surprised" if it were true. They described the video as in line with Schemmel's sense of humor and stated he had made a video about another voice actor that was "deeply hurtful."
Anime News Network reached out to Sean Schemmel's agent for comment but did not receive a response by press time. Schemmel was the subject of recent controversy involving the leak of decades old audio recordings where he can be heard repeating a homophobic slur as the voice of Goku.
Funimation declined to comment on the nature of how the audio was leaked, where the recordings originated, or if the parties involved were ever reprimanded.
Huber was previously referenced in the deposition filings as a friend of Mignogna's who attempted, without Mignogna's input, to draft statements for both parties to avoid a lawsuit in March. Huber's proposed statement would have had Mignogna admit to being a sex addict. Huber's new affidavit stated that he does not have the personal knowledge to make that diagnosis of Mignogna. Huber is also on-record as a believer in the Flat Earth conspiracy theory.
Mignogna's newly filed affidavit reiterated his denials of sexual assault and harassment against voice actresses Jamie Marchi and Monica Rial as well as anyone else, which would include the twins and the Funimation employee from Funimation's internal investigation as well as the additional subjects of the sworn affidavits filed by the defense in July. Mignogna also denied he had "grabbed her [Marchi's] hair and pulled it down" as described in Marchi's affidavit, although Mignogna previously admitted to grabbing Marchi's hair in his own sworn deposition on June 26. Mignogna also reiterated that the alleged assault against Rial was not discussed with Tammi Denbow during Funimation's internal investigation.
His new affidavit also included money earned at individual conventions in the past, supplementing his previous statement during his deposition that he did not know how much money he had lost as a result of cancelled convention appearances. Mignogna's estimated that he had earned approximately US$161,000 in convention appearances this year, with Kamehacon and Anime Matsuri paying the most (37k and 30k). Mignogna states that he was informed by convention staff that his cancellations were due to sexual assault allegations by Rial and Marchi, and that he has never been cancelled at a convention prior to 2019.
Affidavits filed by multiple con-runners dispute this claim, although it is unclear if Mignogna was informed that he was "cancelled" by previous conventions or blacklisted and not invited back without his knowledge.
Mignogna denied having any knowledge of the encounter described by a former 16-year-old theater student that allegedly took place in the summer of 1989, as well as all of the accounts given by former convention staff members, co-workers, convention attendees, and talent.
The affidavit added that he brought concerns to Colleen Clinkenbeard about his lack of roles in 2017. According to Mignogna, Clinkenbeard did not reference any concerns about his behavior outside of sometimes being "difficult" to work with.
"...I occasionally requested additional takes even though the director was satisfied. She stated that there were no other concerns about my conduct and did not mention any reports of inappropriate conduct. I told Chuck Huber of this meeting," Mignogna said.
The defendants collectively filed Motions to Strike all of the documents filed by Beard over the Labor Day weekend from the record, including the Plaintiff's Response to the TCPA Motions to Dismiss, Plaintiff's Second Amended Petition, and Motions to Dismiss Due to Technical Issue on Tuesday. The defendants' counsel have accused Beard of falsely notarizing the affidavits, a crime in the state of Texas. The defendants' counsel also accused Beard of attaching the affidavits as unsworn declarations in the second petition as a way to circumvent having the affidavits struck from the record.
"This is an instance when the integrity of the Court is threatened by the behavior of a licensed attorney in the State of Texas, and three witnesses willing to participate in his schemes. Severe sanctions are warranted, including the striking of the Response, Motion to Strike, and Second Amended Petition," the defense wrote. The defense's counsel has asked for a trial hearing to render sanctions following the court's decision on Mignogna's civil case.
The defendants' counsel wrote that they attempted to verify the validity of the sworn affidavits through communication with Beard but believe that their questions prompted the later filing of the unsworn declarations in the Second Amended Petition. The document also notes that Beard and Bullock were previously sanctioned for fraudulent filings in 2013.
The collectively filed Motions to Strike was followed by a joint motion to declare the Second Petition as inadmissible due to improper footnotes that were left blank, the claim that the evidence provided by the plaintiff is inadmissible, that statements in Mignogna's affidavit run contrary to his prior sworn testimony, as well as further legal concerns about the remaining affidavits of Slatosch, Huber, and Stan Dahlin.
Individual filings by Funimation, Marchi, Rial, and Toye were also filed on Tuesday arguing against the Plaintiff's motions to strike individual affidavits as well as the statements included in the Plaintiff's unsworn declarations. Following the mountain of legal filings on Tuesday, Judge Chupp overruled Mignogna counsel's objections and motions to strike evidence from offered in support of defendant Funimations' motion to dismiss. The court has set a hearing for September 6 to respond to the defense's motion to strike.
Mignogna filed the lawsuit against Funimation, voice actresses Jamie Marchi and Monica Rial, and Rial's fiancée Ronald Toye 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.
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: E-mail correspondence, phone correspondence, re:Search TX
this article has been modified since it was originally posted; see change history