Regarding Santino Hassell

Content warning: This post references sexual abuse, emotional abuse, and exploitation. It also briefly discusses books that contain bullying, queer hatred, and BDSM.

I want to acknowledge that I have had ties to Santino Hassell, that were made in good faith, based on what I knew at the time. I now have more information about the ways readers have been exploited and harmed by him, which included emotional and sexual abuse. I am now severing these ties, which I am outlining below for transparency.

I was a patron for several months. I have withdrawn my pledge and will not be financially supporting him in the future.

I have reviewed his books on my blog and on Goodreads, and included them on book recommendation lists. I will no longer be recommending his books or reviewing them. This includes ones that were co-authored, though I am not assuming co-authors were involved in or responsible for his actions.

I accepted an ARC a while ago for a collection that included a story by him; that story has been removed from the collection. I intend to review that collection so as to call attention to the work of the other creators involved. I will not be reviewing future collections that include his work.

I was a sensitivity reader for two of his books, and have completed that work. I will not be doing sensitivity reading for him in the future.

One of these books is Bishop’s Move, a book whose scheduled March release has now been cancelled. I am acknowledged at the end of the book for this work, which focused on supporting the authors in writing fat representation, clarifying Lucky’s gender as GNC and not non-binary, and writing accurate BDSM.

The other of these books is Use of Hands, the third Barons book; my work focused on supporting the author to write a story about a closeted queer bullying survivor named Rocky who coped with bullying by becoming a bully that targeted other queer folks (which was depicted in book 2, Down by Contact). In particular, my role focused on assisting the author to show how this character might take real responsibility for the violence that he had done, be truly accountable for it, and take action to change his behavior, as well as deal with his fears around people finding out that he is queer. All of the character’s arc was impossible without the help of a therapist; one of the main things I did was assist the author in writing supporting details about such therapy and what it might look like, what its role might be in the accountability process.

11 thoughts on “Regarding Santino Hassell

  1. Whoa. So, I hadn’t heard about any of this, just seeing Santino’s side of the story recently and having not heard about any of THAT except through him leaving Twitter. (I’m an occasional romance novel reader, but have enjoyed his.) Are there any good links to find out what the story is?


    1. I want to acknowledge that its difficult to find clear info.

      I also want to acknowledge that some of the info is presented in a way that felt very difficult for me to read as a trans disabled person, because of the way it talks about disability and illness, and the way it talks about gender.

      It also is potentially triggering as it describes emotional abuse, sexual abuse, catfishing, manipulation, lies, exploitation, and financial abuse.

      (ETA on 3/9 336p) This account on tumblr is a narrative summary with a bunch of links to original sources:

      (ETA o 3/9 1019p) Part 2 of the tumblr account:

      Official statements from publishers pulling his work

      -Here is a statement from Riptide:

      -A statement from Dreamspinners:

      -A thread discussing the Riptide statement:

      -Further statement from Riptide in answer to a question: (added 3/10)

      -Statement from Tiffany Reisz and one from co-authors regarding pulling his story from the anthology Exposed:

      Survivor accounts:

      -A moments thread summarizing things:

      -This account is posting anonymous accounts from people who were abused:

      -This particular account of sexual and emotional abuse and exploitation of a 19 year old queer person is one that was esp upsetting for me to read as a queer survivor:

      -A long discussion on Goodreads:

      -An account of a POC queer man author who was targeted, with screen shots: (added 3/11)

      Statements from former supporters:



      - (added 3/11)

      Santinos public statement:

      Statements from co-authors and collaborators:
      -Piper Vaughn:

      -follow up statement from Piper Vaughn (added 3/11)

      -Megan Erickson statement from yesterday:

      -Megan Erickson’s more recent thread:

      -Megan Erickson’s most recent statement, which includes an announcement that she is pulling the Cyberlove series:

      -Avon Gale (added 3/9, 715pm)

      -Karen Stivali: (added 3/9, 730pm)

      -Follow up statement from Karen Stivali (added 3/11)

      These threads and this post might offer useful context: (added 3/9, 715pm)

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Wow, that’s super comprehensive, thank you. I feel very embarrassed/ashamed for not knowing this all earlier and I will definitely be reading it…though keeping in mind my headspace as I am also a trans/nb disabled person. Thank you for the warnings and for all the work in compiling this.


      2. Yes please be gentle with yourself around reading this stuff. It’s really not on you to not have known this stuff. A lot of people didn’t know.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I remember that Thorny debacle , its sad that such persons keep trying to hoodwink and hurt people. I really really liked his books , its such a betrayal . I just dont understand why one would go to such lengths to deceive .


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