Content Warning for discussion of sexual assault, stalking and mental and emotional harassment.
A former employee of California-based company The Broken Token published a Medium article on August 19th alleging that CEO Greg Spence carried out years of sexual assault and emotional and mental abuse during her employment.
Several publishers and designers, including Cephalofair’s Isaac Childres and Evil Hat Productions have condemned Spence and ended all professional relationships with The Broken Token, which produces organisational inserts for board games and other accessories.
Ashley Taylor’s Medium piece, titled Speaking up to Protect Others, described what she characterised as “five years of sexual, mental, and emotional abuse”. According to Taylor, what began as a positive experience as the company’s first employee initially soured in 2013 when Spence professed feelings for her in a car as the pair traveled to a local game store to deliver products.
Sexual assault and harassment has no place in this industry, and Cephalofair Games is committed to making it safe for everyone. We're exploring options regarding the inserts sold during the Frosthaven KS (as well as other Broken Token obligations), and we'll have more news soon.— Isaac Childres (@Cephalofair) August 19, 2021
Taylor said Spence “got upset and clearly agitated” when she did not reciprocate and that the professional relationship between them became a constant exercise in managing the CEO’s emotions. She alleges that Spence took advantage of working from his home to touch her and sexually assault her several times.
“If I did not allow him to do what he wanted he would get increasingly angry and mentally abusive,” Taylor wrote. “He made it clear that my job was on the line when he was not happy with me.”
As this situation continued, Taylor said she threw herself into her work as much as possible while her own mental health deteriorated. Efforts to find another job that could support her fell through, and she said she ultimately decided to “tough it out and stay” regardless of the consequences and continued treatment.
Sometime later, Taylor said Spence separated from his wife and “made it very clear” that the actions were for the benefit of what he saw as their relationship. She alleges that he eventually decided to stop compensating her and instead proposed a very specific arrangement.
In light of recent developments, we are terminating our business relationship with Broken Token and given notice that they are to stop selling their products designed for the Dresden Files Coop Card Game.— Evil Hat Productions (@EvilHatOfficial) August 19, 2021
“If I was to become his girlfriend then I would want for nothing but I would no longer get paid. I declined. This outraged him and for the next few weeks he would be combative, manipulative, disrespectful, and downright cruel,” Taylor said. “I eventually gave in to him and started to do as he wished in order for the abuse to stop. I was downright miserable at this point. I now fully understood the game that he was playing and I didn’t have a way out.”
What followed was a period in which Taylor said she felt her job was constantly “on the line” if she did not attend to Spence’s sexual demands and work overtime with no pay and otherwise not oppose him in any way. Taylor claimed he accessed her Facebook profile in order to contact other men she had spoken with, telling them the two were in a relationship and not to speak with her.
Once Spence reconciled with his wife, Taylor said the abatement of any sexual assault on his part was replaced by an increased agitation towards her and any work she did, characterized by verbal abuse and using her fragile and frayed emotional state as grounds for discipline and retaliation. After finally leaving the company, Taylor claimed Spence would stalk her at annual Game Manufacturers Association expos to the point that she traveled constantly with others for her own safety.
Taylor wrote at the end of the article that she decided to come forward publicly after hearing that another employee had experienced something similar. “I had a chance to let others know and I stayed quiet. Then it happened… my worst nightmare came true and it happened to another woman. I am still devastated to this day that I didn’t come forward sooner to prevent this,” she said.
Early on August 20th, The Broken Token published a statement from Spence on its Twitter account wherein he denied Taylor’s allegations, along with any actions against a second employee. He attests that “the close and consensual interactions I had with others in and outside the workplace never crossed the line of sexual harassment or assault”. It is unclear who the "others" Spence refers to may be, beyond the unnamed employee mentioned by Taylor.
Spence goes on to say both he and The Broken Token will be addressing all allegations and will “work hard to continue providing a safe and secure work environment” for their staff. Dicebreaker reached out to The Broken Token for comment but did not receive a reply before publication.