Competitive Street Fighter and Marvel vs. Capcom player Noel Brown has been banned from a series of high-profile fighting game tournaments following an instance of "unwarranted and unwanted contact" with a fellow attendee.
The incident, which took place at the recent Combo Breaker fighting game tournament, was captured on video as Brown groped a woman while filtering out of an auditorium.
Today Capcom issued a statement on the matter, explaining that it's looked into the issue and found Brown's behaviour inappropriate. He will be banned from the rest of the Capcom Pro Tour. Should another similar incident occur with Brown, he will be banned for life.
"We have worked closely with the tournament organiser of Combo Breaker to gather all details surrounding the incident. We have found that the victim, who wishes not to be named, has gone on record and confirmed this was an inappropriate act from Noel Brown and was not consensual," Capcom said in its statement.
"We do not condone any acts of harassment and we want all of our players and fans to know we will continue our work to ensure that all Capcom Pro Tour events provide safe, inviting environments where the focus is on healthy competition and exciting rivalries."
The Combo Breaker organisers offered a statement of their own explaining that the ban would go into effect in 2017 as well, while Brown's eligibility will be reconsidered in 2018.
"The victim - who has asked not to be named - has since provided a statement to event operatives confirming and outlining the inappropriateness of Mr. Brown's behaviour. Due to the nature of the offense, Mr. Brown will not be permitted to attend Combo Breaker's 2017 and potential 2018 events. Combo Breaker will re-evaluate Mr. Brown's eligibility to attend our events in 2018," the Combo Breaker organisers said.
"Harassment will continue to have a zero tolerance policy at Combo Breaker events. Be considerate and respectful of all attendees."
Joey Cuellar, organiser of Evo, the biggest fighting game tournament, stood by Capcom's decision and issued a statement to Shoryuken explaining that Brown would be banned from Evo as well.
"Evo stands behind Capcom's decision to ban any player responsible for acts of harassment. We have a zero tolerance policy for behavior that creates an unsafe environment for our attendees. He will not be allowed to attend Evo 2016," Cuellar stated.
As for Brown, he took to Twitter and Facebook to tell his side of the story, where he explained that he and the unnamed woman were friends and were simply goofing around as she'd previously done the same to him.
In a Facebook post since deleted by Brown (but still visible in cache form), he posted screencaps of his text messages with the woman and the two seemed to be on good terms. According to the screenshots Brown posted (which at this time cannot be 100 per cent verified), the woman apologised for her statement to organisers.
"I really want you to know I feel bad," she said after clarifying that she was "not being good with words" when telling her side of the story to Combo Breaker organisers.
In a status update about the incident Brown explained the following:
"First and for most, it was not a random isolated thing. We were playing around as you can tell, she clearly laughed in the video after it happened. Of course people will blow things out of proportion and make them seem like they're something they're not which is definitely the case here. I don't understand how someone else calls sexual harassment on someone else's behalf if they're not any of the parties involved. Actually all three (her, her boyfriend and I) of us drank and ate pizza together that night after seeing the screen shot. No one ever wants to hear the truth because controversy is always more entertaining."
So why did Brown remove this? The pro player posted a tweet showing phone text logs of the woman explaining that she was upset with him for posting their private correspondence without consulting her first. It's unclear if Brown asked her before posting these message logs, but that explains why he removed the defensive Facebook post.
This is not Brown's first time in the news for allegedly harming someone as in 2013 he was arrested for allegedly hitting his ex-girlfriend.