Photojournalist Antonin Kratochvil has resigned from VII, weeks after a July 16 article in Columbia Journalism Review reported that he sexually assaulted one female member of the agency and was abusive to others. The agency announced the resignation on its website September 3 without offering any details.
“On August 24th, 2018, Antonin Kratochvil submitted his resignation to the VII Agency, which we accepted immediately. Any inquires should be directed to Mr. Kratochvil,” the announcement said in its entirety.
Kratochvil was a founding member of VII. In the CJR report, he denied all the allegations against him.
On July 22, days after publication of the CJR article, VII announced on its website that it had “immediately suspended founding member Antonin Kratochvil and initiated an investigation” upon learning of the allegation of physical molestation from a CJR reporter. “The circumstances surrounding the allegation…were shocking to us,” the agency said in the announcement.
CJR reported that according to one of Kratochvil’s accusers (and a former VII member), his behavior was “well known within the agency.” The article went on to quote the accuser: “Everyone knew about it and would say things like ‘Oh that’s just Antonin.’” CJR also reported that Kratochvil harassed at least two other female VII members, and that VII board members were unresponsive to a complaint stemming from at least one incident.
VII has concluded the investigation it announced July 22 into the allegations against Kratochvil, according to VII member Ron Haviv, but he declined to discuss the findings.
The agency indicated in its July 22 announcement that in 2017—long before the allegations against Kratochvil were made public by CJR—VII implemented a new code of ethics, and also “created an internal female-led reporting structure that can be used to report inappropriate behavior inside and outside the agency.”
In a written statement to PDN, photographer Sara Terry, who is one of seven current female members of VII, reiterated those changes and said: “VII began taking steps over a year ago to create a safer and more inclusive environment…. Antonin’s suspension renewed our efforts to continue re-thinking our work practices as an agency. Almost immediately, the predominantly male board voted to create two new board positions – with two women being elected to fill those spots by an agency-wide vote, bringing the board to nearly 50-50 gender parity.”
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