Police in France have taken five former Ubisoft employees, including vice president of editorial and creative services Tommy Francois and chief creative officer Serge Hascoët, into custody following a long investigation into moral and sexual harassment at the Assassin’s Creed creator. By Wednesday, the five had been taken into custody and questioned; only Francois and Hascoët’s names have been made public.
French newspaper Libération first reported the news. Maude Beckers, an attorney representing some of the Ubisoft employees who made the harassment allegations, told WIRED that the detainment and questioning of Francois, Hascoët, and others shows prosecutors are “taking this matter very seriously.” It’s “a strong signal that harassment and gender-based and sexual violence in the workplace are serious offenses,” she added.
In the summer of 2020, after developers began speaking on X (formerly Twitter) alleging experiences of abuse and assault, reports surfaced those claims of a rampant culture of harassment within Ubisoft, leading to a chain of high profile suspensions, firings, and departures. Maxime Béland, the company’s co-founder was accused of choking a female employee during a work party; Béland was suspended and later resigned, as did Hascoët. (Béland has never formally confirmed nor denied the allegation.) Business Insider reported that Ubisoft fired Francois in 2020.
Although authorities are focusing on several key people at this time, Beckers says those individual responsibilities must not “overshadow the more general responsibility of the Ubisoft company.”
It’s not yet clear if Francois, Hascoët, and the others taken into custody will be charged. Ubisoft spokesperson Heather Haefner told WIRED that the company “has no knowledge of what has been shared and therefore can’t comment.”