Tecmo rebuffs sex harassment claims

Company says allegations against Itagaki were bogus; DOA producer to countersue, will seek damages for "defamation."

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The Dead or Alive fighting franchise has been criticised by some as using sex to sell its games. Spin-off game series Dead or Alive Xtreme takes it a step further, with one of the characters diving naked into the ocean in the opening sequence of its Beach Volleyball edition, and Dead or Alive Xtreme 2 features unlockable pole-dancing scenes.

Art imitated life earlier this year when DOA publisher Tecmo hit the headlines after the games' producer, Tomonobu Itagaki, was accused by a former coworker of sexual harassment. The woman claimed that Itagaki had made a series of unwanted advances. She said that on one occasion, the high-profile producer locked her in a conference room and at other times groped her and forcibly kissed her.

The Tokyo-based company this week issued a statement categorically denying the allegations. It said, "The alleged sexual harassment of the former employee by Itagaki never took place, and Tecmo did not issue an unjustified notice of dismissal to the former employee."

The statement also attacked the media for its "one-sided" coverage of the event and stated that Itagaki believes he has been defamed by the "false allegations."

The company claims that it immediately launched an investigation after the employee claimed Itagaki harassed her, which was under way for one month and was performed in "the most strict and impartial manner." The result of the investigation, it said, was to conclude that the allegations in question were a result of the former employee's desire "to vent frustrations over her own personal affairs, and not indicative of sexual harassment."

The statement went on to say that Itagaki and the unnamed former employee, as well as others, "mingled personal affairs with their corporate responsibilities," and as a result of this "unnecessary confusion" in the workplace, both were demoted and had their salaries reduced. Tecmo also claims that it did not force the employee to leave the company by firing her but that she put in a voluntary resignation.

Itagaki and Tecmo's "reputation and goodwill" have been damaged, claims Tecmo, and because of this, Itagaki plans to launch a countersuit against the woman for damages.

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