On Sunday, a woman by the name of Cynthia Naugle sought to come forward with a story of abuse and sexual misconduct she had received in the past from an unnamed comic book creator. Naugle tweeted out a link to her personal blogspot page, wherein she recounted her story for the public:
A couple days ago I sent a letter to my abuser.
I’ve decided I want to tell my story.
He works in the comicbook industry, after I sent him the letter he deactivated his socialmedia accounts except twitter.
This is one of the hardest things I’ve done.https://t.co/lk0724dy44
— Cynthia Naugle (@TenTimesATiger) December 10, 2018
In the post, Naugle recalls how she “was sexually, mentally, and emotionally abused by someone [she] thought was [her] friend.” and states that she is “coming out with this for many reasons”:
First, I’d like to thank the women that had[sp] come out about their sexual abusers in the past year or so. It has made me realize I am not alone.
Second, I’m back in the city where it happened to me and I recently saw him after years of not seeing him. It’s forced me to relive the past, and as much as it has hurt I’ve now been able to start the healing process of what happened to me.
Third, to hold him accountable. To have him know I’m not going to stay quiet about this anymore. To not let him attempt to write our story with what he’s told people. I’m no longer going to sit back and cringe as he tells people “We should of[sp] ended up together. She meant so much to me. It hurt me that she got away.”. Our story was never one about romance.
Lastly, to make sure he doesn’t do this to anyone else.
Naugle details many instances of mental abuse, sexual coercion, and sexual harassment she received from the individual in question. These include pressuring her into unwanted sexual encounters including a ménage à trois involving her alleged abuser’s girlfriend.
Naugle also explains he preyed upon her fears and insecurities to continue a sexual relationship:
For months, this kind of behavior continued. I would tell him I didn’t want to anymore, and he would make comments like “Okay, I’ll just go after your friends then, how about the minions?” (Minions is what we called the students we’d hire that were part of a highschool program.)
She would also go into detail about other sporadic instances of sexual conduct including listening to him perform certain sex acts via phone.
Naugle’s full statement and the extent of the misconduct directed towards her can be read on her blogspot page. It is evident from her writing that these events have taken a serious toll on her mental and emotional well-being. After Naugle had composed a letter to her abuser and built up the mental fortitude to send it to him, she felt the response she received trivialized her experience:
3 days ago, I sent him a very long email about what he did to me. It was basically this post.
He responded in less than 5mins. He apologized, said he remembers things differently, and he’ll never see me at any of the same conventions, and he’ll remove me from all social media’s, and he’s there if I need to talk.
It took him less than 5 mins to read, process, and respond to a very long detailed letter. It took me months, and many rewrites to figure out how to say what I wanted to. Reliving it all, having to go to therapy, having to tell my family and friends about this, talking to the other women he’s hurt, and he barely skimmed through it.
While Naugle did not directly name her abuser, it was not long before members of the public were able to parse through the few identifying traits Naugle had discussed in her post to discover the identity of her alleged abuser: Eric M. Esquivel, current writer of Border Town for DC Comics.
Naugle notes that the person in question was the Marketing Manager of a comic book shop where Naugle was employed, moved from Tuscon to Los Angeles, appeared at Tuscon Comic-Con 2018, and had also recently released a new book through DC’s Vertigo label.
According to her Facebook page, Naugle was previously employed at Heroes and Villains Comic Book Store, the same comic book shop where Esquivel was previously employed as the Marketing Specialist. Though Esquivel was a long time resident of Tuscon, AZ, Esquivel left his native Tuscon, presumably around 2013 as evidenced by his listed experience on his Linkedin page, for Los Angeles, the city which he currently lists as his residence on said Linkedin page. Of the creators announced for the 2018 relaunch of DC’s Vertigo imprint, only Esquivel had been listed as a guest for the 2018 Tuscon Comic-Con.
As of writing, Esquivel has not responded to the accusations. He has instead deleted all of his social media accounts, save his Twitter account, which has been set to protected mode. DC Comics also has yet to publicly respond to Naugle’s accusations.