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Oculus co-founder Michael Antonov accused of sexual assault

Oculus co-founder Michael Antonov accused of sexual assault

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Photo by Adi Robertson / The Verge

A co-founder of the Facebook-owned virtual reality company Oculus has been accused of groping a woman during a VR session years ago. Autumn Rose Taylor, a marketing director at game studio Owlchemy Labs, tweeted the allegations yesterday against Michael Antonov. Facebook VR VP Andrew Bosworth responded to her tweets, calling the story “sickening.” A Facebook spokesperson confirmed to The Verge that Antonov left Facebook earlier this year.

Taylor wrote that the incident with Antonov happened at a Game Developers Conference VR party while she was in college. (She initially described him as “a founder/exec of a well-known VR hardware company” but later revealed his name.) Taylor confirmed to Business Insider that she met Antonov at a GDC afterparty in 2016, saying that he had offered to give her a private preview of the upcoming Oculus Rift headset before taking her to a private room and groping her. “Michael Antonov was a fucking creep to me at an Oculus event. Men don’t get to keep doing this,” she tweeted.

“Men don’t get to keep doing this.”

Bosworth, who began leading the team in 2018, tweeted that he’d “asked to understand how the situations were handled” at Facebook. “For confidentiality, I can’t share details but harassment isn’t tolerated or ignored. We investigate every claim, every time,” he wrote. Oculus was acquired by Facebook in 2014. Antonov’s LinkedIn page says he joined Facebook’s AI team from Oculus last year, but it states that his employment ended in May. All other Oculus co-founders had left the company as of mid-August.

Katie Chironis, a current Riot Games designer who worked on several Oculus demos, also reported a negative experience at Oculus. “I was sexually harassed at an Oculus holiday party in front of about 10 other employees, several of whom instantly came forward to corroborate the story when I reported it to HR. The guy still works there,” she wrote.

Taylor told Business Insider that she was inspired by a spate of public allegations against powerful men in the games industry. Earlier this week, three game designers and composers were accused of rape and abuse, leading one studio to cancel an upcoming game due to the claims. More allegations have since emerged about other developers.