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Riot Games Investigation Finds No Wrongdoing By CEO

Riot Games CEO Nicolo Laurent at the 2018 League of Legends World Championship.
Riot Games CEO Nicolo Laurent at the 2018 League of Legends World Championship. / ESPAT Media/Getty Images

Riot Games says a third-party investigation into the alleged misconduct of its CEO Nicolas Laurent found no evidence of wrongdoing and recommended Laurents receive no punishment from the company. Riot shared the news with staff in an email to staff Tuesday, the Washington Post reports.

Allegations of misconduct first came to light Jan. 7, when Sharon O'Donnell, a former executive assistant at Riot Games, filed a lawsuit claiming Laurent had created a hostile work environment and predicated O'Donnell's continued employment on her response to unsolicited sexual advances.

The Washington Post obtained an email Laurent sent to employees following the investigation's conclusion.

"It's important you hear this from me directly: The allegations of harassment, discrimination, and retaliation involving me are not true. Nothing of that nature, or even remotely close to it, ever happened," reads Laurent's email.

The investigation, conducted by law firm Seyfarth Shaw LLP, was reviewed by a three-person special committee comprised of members of Riot's board of directors. (Gisbon, Dunn & Crutcer LLP represent Riot Games in its case against O'Donnell.) Harvard Business School professor Youngme Moon is the only publicly-named member of Riot Games' board and serves on the special committee alongside two male C-Level executives at Riot Games owner Tencent.

The committee said it reached its conclusion by reviewing the investigation's findings both for evidence of misconduct and for any interaction between Laurent and O'Donnell that "could have been interpreted as harassing, discriminatory, or retaliatory," per the committee's statement.

"We concluded that there was no evidence that Laurent harassed, discriminated, or retaliated against the plaintiff," reads the statement.

The committee says any "additional material evidence" would merit the reopening of the investigation.

Riot Games filed a request Tuesday to speed up court proceedings and ultimately move to arbitration. Riot asked for a status conference, in which the judge would decide how the case should proceed, after alleged witness tampering by O'Donnell and others on her behalf, The Post reports.

O'Donnell's original filing accused Laurent of making inappropriate sexual remarks, and of inviting her to his house to work when his wife wasn't home. She says her refusal brought on hostility from Laurent, who went on to limit her responsibilities and opportunities at work.

Riot Games' response to the initial filing said O'Donnell was fired "based on multiple well-documented complaints from a variety of people." In a follow-up statement, Riot Games clarified that "This individual was terminated following more than a dozen complaints from both employees and external partners and after multiple coaching discussions to try and address these concerns."

Through her attorney, O'Donnell said she'd never been made aware of any complaints, and characterized the coaching as a sexist commentary on her tone.

Reporting on Riot Games has previously shown a culture of casual sexism and gender discrimination. That reporting led to a class-action lawsuit against the studio for gender discrimination and two inquiries by regulators in Riot's home state of California. Laurent himself was not accused of misconduct in that reporting.