Reports: Pixar Executive Takes Leave Of Absence After Sexual Harassment Complaints

John Lasseter reportedly apologized to employees in a memo Tuesday.

John Lasseter, head of animation for Disney and Pixar, is taking a leave of absence following reports of serial sexual misconduct from employees, according to The Hollywood Reporter and Variety.

Lasseter was known for “grabbing,” “kissing” and “making comments about physical attributes” during company social events and beyond, The Hollywood Reporter was first to report, citing several unnamed inside sources. One source told The Hollywood Reporter how he once watched a woman defend herself against Lasseter’s groping during a meeting. Actress Rashida Jones reportedly left “Toy Story 4,” where she was serving as a writer, due to an unwanted advance from the executive, The Hollywood Reporter wrote. 

Representatives for Lasseter, Disney and Jones did not immediately return HuffPost’s request for comment.

In a joint statement with actor Will McCormack to The New York Times, Jones denied on Tuesday that she left Pixar because of unwanted advances from Lasseter. “We feel like we have been put in a position where we need to speak for ourselves. The break neck speed at which journalists have been naming the next perpetrator renders some reporting irresponsible and, in fact, counterproductive for the people who do want to tell their stories. In this instance, The Hollywood Reporter does not speak for us. We did not leave Pixar because of unwanted advances.” 

Both Variety and The Hollywood Reporter said they obtained a memo Lasseter sent to Pixar staff on Tuesday, announcing his decision to step away.

“I’ve recently had a number of difficult conversations that have been very painful for me,” he reportedly wrote in a message that acknowledged a series of “missteps” and apologized for any discomfort he caused his employees.

“That was never my intent,” he wrote, per Variety. “Collectively, you mean the world to me, and I deeply apologize if I have let you down. I especially want to apologize to anyone who has ever been on the receiving end of an unwanted hug or any other gesture they felt crossed the line in any way, shape or form.”  

Lasseter joins a number of other prominent Hollywood figures grappling with sexual misconduct accusations. 

A series of damaging reports published by The New York Times and The New Yorker in early October detailed stories about former super-producer Harvey Weinstein from A-list actresses and industry insiders alike, with accusations ranging from harassment to rape.

Questions have arisen over what executives at Disney ― which owned Weinstein’s company for over a decade ― knew about the accusations and when they found out. But the published reports inspired other women and men to share their experiences, as well, with figures including actor Kevin Spacey, comedian Louis C.K., producer Brett Ratner, actor Ed Westwick, director James Toback and others facing serious questions about their behavior.

Many of the accused have been dropped by their agents or removed from positions of power. Weinstein was quickly fired from his production company, while Spacey was booted from Netflix’s “House of Cards,” where he had a starring role, and Louis C.K. announced plans to take an extended break from his work. 

Lasseter has produced every Pixar feature since 2001′s “Monsters, Inc.” after making his directorial debut with 1995′s “Toy Story.”

He is responsible for creating Luxo Jr., Pixar’s desk lamp mascot.