Smash player and streaming personality Sky Williams addressed on his stream Tuesday the wave of sexual assault allegations, recently made public and connecting some of the biggest names of the Smash scene to alleged acts of misconduct. Empowered by the ongoing #MeToo movement in gaming — which has so far ousted multiple players, talent, and personalities — the victims in the Smash community have been coming out in the past few days, sharing stories which even included sexual assault and misconduct towards minors.
Several of the accused belong to the so-called "Sky House", the Smash gaming households operated by Sky Williams which host numerous Smash players of varying ages. Among the accused are Gonzalo "ZeRo" Barrios, who was accused of, and admitted of, harassing several minors, including Jacqueline "Jisu" Choe (resident of a Sky House) and "Katie"; and Richard "Keitaro" King, who admitted to having had sexual relationships with a minor, whom he met at Sky's house.
Sky Williams spoke for over 2 hours on stream before the broadcast was cut short. Below is a highlight of Sky's statements.
"What many people don't know is initially, I sought legal counsel. [...] I want you to know that my silence was not anything more than making sure that this was a statement you can rely on and make judgement upon so you can get the full scope of everything that happened," Sky Williams began. "Why it's happening now, randomly? [...] I realized that I'm gonna continue to keep waiting and trying to find the perfect way to respond to these things, but more things keep coming out."
"[I knew] that this house would one day explode": Sky Williams makes opening statement
"What you're about to hear is something that not a soul knows outside myself. There are things I kept private as time went on for a multitude of reasons, but it has nothing to do with silencing the victims or enabling attackers. It was that I knew for the longest time that I was lying to myself, that I knew that I was completely over my head, that this house would one day explode, but never in any world did I expect or want any of this," Sky Williams' opening statement read before the streamer went on to explain how the Sky Houses were set up.
According to Williams, his name was either the main or the sole name on the Sky House leases, meaning he was also the main financially responsible person for these households, as well as other responsibilities that followed.
"No matter how you slice it, or how you look at it, I am guilty of harboring people at my home that gravely hurt others, at parties and things that happened here," Sky admitted, adding. "This wasn't intentional and as I will explain, I did not have knowledge of these misdeeds in the final Sky Mansion."
Sky Williams also mentioned that he's not been a victim of this house and named himself the "first abuser".
On how Sky Houses operate: Response to ffSade
On Monday, Melissa "ffSade" Yabumoto, a digital artist who lived in four of Williams' households, posted a detailed Google Doc, outlining how the multiple Sky Houses operated. Sade addressed rooming and rent conditions, as well as the social hierarchy, privacy, and daily life for the residents. According to Sade, the houses had a strict hierarchy and the higher you were on it, the more voice you had, with Sky Williams acting as an authoritative figure. This meant that for the "lower tier" residents, things could get pretty rough.
"Conversely, the lowest tier of housemates not only had little to no say unless it was convenient, but it also wasn’t uncommon for their entire existence to be ignored. It felt subhuman. There was no established, written form of a hierarchy- but essentially, Sky had favorites and those favorites had much more say on everything."
"Sky was the law," Sade added.
Another screenshot was also made public wherein a chat log, Sky Williams threatens material punishment and damage to residents because of a guest he was "not warned about."
Sky addressed the latter comment first, stating that it stemmed from rent issues, as coming up with a fair rate for a three-bedroom house with 24 people living in it is impossible. As a result, Sky fronted a lot of the rent (and places they lived in were expensive, as he puts it), so freeloaders were not appreciated.
"I had two rules in my home: don't wake me up and let me know when someone comes over. These rules were there for very tragic reasons. As a victim of rape myself, I am very scared of being attacked. [...] The irony is not lost on me and it haunts me, but I wanted to give you context on it.
And for the guests, there were times where I would sleep in till 4, but maybe I wake up at 2pm, people are loud, I just have to deal with it. [...] Sometimes, there would be guests of others, and fans of mine, and I'm just there, pepperoni nipples, and it's not a good look. I want to have a certain appearance at the very least.
I had tried so much to beg people to give me the respect, to tell me so that I know. I felt that no one was and I felt that my response was trash. My response is violence? That's just trash. It's inexcusable and immature, and just bad."
"People started coming over and filming things without me knowing. I was never able to relax. My home became another stage and I just wanted my home back," Sky added.
Williams further admitted that while he was a control freak, he felt people were not contributing to the living conditions in the house, refusing to do simple chores like cleaning the kitchen. The biggest social problem, Williams clarified, was that he had no way to discipline anyone and that he would act childish when he felt he was losing control.
On Jisu's allegations: ZeRo's case
On July 2, digital artist Jacqueline "Jisu" Choe published accounts of sexual harassment, stating they're the reason she left the Smash community, naming in the process Chilean pro Smasher Gonzalo "ZeRo" Barrios. On July 3, an anonymous source nicknamed "Katie" publicized her own story, adding more instances of inappropriate behavior from ZeRo, providing Skype chat logs from 2014-2015 when she was 14.
A few days later, on July 5, Jisu published a 58-page document detailing multiple instances of sexual assault and misconduct from residents of the Sky House and adding even more details to the prior allegations. In it, Jisu gave her account on what living in the Sky House was, including her relationship with Sky Williams himself and how he operated as the voice of authority in the household.
"Have you ever talked to someone where every single thing they say doesn’t seem to make sense and yet they’re so adamant you might start to believe them? To be honest, I don’t know why I didn’t come forward about this sooner; maybe it’s his large following, maybe it’s just because he physically towers over me, or threatened to “beat me” several times at the house-- I don’t know," Jisu wrote.
"It was clear to me that Sky was realizing he’s about to face reality"
After a long list of chat logs, Jisu added that she realized what she gave a start to: a potential end to Sky Williams operations, following the already massive wave of allegations towards top Smash personalities, which is why he was doing everything in his power to stop it from happening.
"After allegations of D1, Keitaro, and Anti surfaced...he knew he was next. He knew my story and everything related to it is his nail in the coffin, so he tried everything in his power to make me believe that he’s on my side, despite never having told me any of these things years ago. [...]
Since I realized that, several other roommates started coming forward to me with their stories. It was clear to me that Sky was realizing he’s about to face reality, and thus he’s doing his best to try and manipulate not just me, but everyone closely involved, to be on his side. He knows that if we all come forward-- he’s done. I don’t think I should have to say this, but I want you all to recognize that this behavior of manipulation, gaslighting, and lying is disgusting and should not be forgiven."
"This house was the first and last time that I have ever lived with a minor in my home," Sky Williams responded, referring to Jisu. The household schematic (unlisted to protect the personal information of the residents) shows the living arrangements of Jisu (Jackie) sharing a bedroom with ZeRo, and Sky Williams' bedroom at the opposite side of the house. In that same bedroom was also the person who Jisu worked for and was later detailed as one of her abusers.
According to Williams, the reason Jisu was even allowed in the house was that the person who she worked with never disclosed her age. Sky would ultimately find out about Jisu's age but admittedly did nothing to solve the potential issues, even after suspicions about abuse arose following conversations between Sky and Jisu. Moreover, Sky admitted having signed a letter of residency so Jisu can enroll in a school.
"Even if I was convinced she was being abused, I wasn't smart enough or strong enough to take definitive action"
This raises multiple questions about Sky's behavior and decision making in regards to Jisu's living conditions, including why he never attempted to end the living arrangement before things spiralled out of control, why he never contacted Jisu's parents, or why he at least didn't exert more control over social dynamic in that shared bedroom. In fact, Sky openly admitted to being "conflicted and stuck" when the insides of Jisu's bedroom became more private and closed off.
"Even if I was convinced she was being abused, I wasn't smart enough or strong enough to take definitive action, especially we didn't have proof of their sexual activity yet." Sky added that the first time he thought of taking action was when D'Ron "D1" Maingrette, who also lived in the house, brought up instances of sexual activity to Williams.
"He was pissed," Williams recalled.
As a reminder, D1 was also one of the people accused of rape, after KTDominate published her accounts of a party the two went to. In a later statement, D1 apologized to KTDominate, admitting he had no recollection of the evening due to inebriation.
On allegations against MacD
The first accusations against McCain "MacD" Lavelle actually surfaced four years earlier, in 2016. They were published by Smash journalist Linnea "Smapps" Capps, who reported about fellow Smasher Brandon "Sparky" Wayne suffering abuse from MacD. Earlier this week, Capps followed up with another Reddit post, outlining how her career in esports was destroyed by the aforementioned reporting. Last Thursday, MacD himself posted his own apology and retired from Smash.
In Capps' 2016 reporting, she claims that MacD's behavior of harassment began after he moved in with Sky in September 2014. She alleged that Sky was also aware of MacD's actions but chose not to intervene or speak out. Later, in March 2016, Capps withdrew these allegations against Sky Williams in a statement to TheScore Esports. Williams himself denied the allegations of his knowledge in a TwitLonger.
In his latest response, Williams further denied his involvement in MacD's abuse against Sparky.
"While I felt that Brandon's [Sparky] recollection of the events was inaccurate, I didn't deny their existence. However, I've never protected, abused, or, of course, silenced a victim on purpose. It's clear I didn't take the best steps with this knowledge but you deserve to know what these steps were."
Williams gives his account of MacD's and Sparky's relationship while in the Sky House, including conversations to set boundaries between the involved parties, and multiple instances of MacD and Sparky being intimate before Williams' eyes.
This is where Sky Williams' stream was cut off.
What this means: Consequences for the Smash community
For Smash fans, this has been a dark week of some of the biggest names in the professional community being accused — and several of them admitting — to acts of sexual assault, harassment, and even pedophilia. The cases from the Smash community largely outnumber those of any other competitive and esports community, pointing to an ongoing practice of sexual misconduct, which is also systemically protected, hidden, and not talked about.
With many names already exiting the scene, the Smash community is headed for a massive purge and there's no clarity as to where it will end, as new cases come up each day. The connections to Sky Williams' households raise an auxiliary issue to all of this: that there clearly are living conditions with no proper supervision, which have become the catalyst for inappropriate sexual behavior.
By his own admission, Sky Williams had known about or suspected that sexual misconduct was happening under his roof and he failed to recognize the correct steps of action and in some cases took none. While the degree of Williams' involvement is still being established as the story's developing, the Smash community has to ask itself some very serious questions and decide how it wants to proceed forward.
The realizations, however, aren't going to be easy to swallow.
The story is developing.
Update 7/7: An original version of this article linked to Williams' Twitch video and provided a schematic of one of his households. As both of those include personal information that people have wished to not be made public, the article has been redacted.
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