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 I have withdrawn my pledge and will not be financially supporting him in the future.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.