Scavengers Studio today announced the conclusions of an investigation conducted after a GamesIndustry.biz report earlier this year detailed a troubling pattern of behavior centered around the developer's creative director Simone Darveau and enabled by his fellow co-founder and CEO Amélie Lamarche.
The studio said that the audit of its practices conducted by Solertia Consulting Group absolved the company on some of the allegations levied at it by nine then-current or former employees, and said it found no evidence of misconduct since 2019.
"While there are workplace behaviours that still require improvement, the audit did not find the presence of systemic sexual or psychological harassment at the studio," Scavengers said.
The studio also addressed a 2019 company party at which Scavengers employees said Darveau got drunk and groped multiple employees, some of whom would soon quit the studio.
"Management was quick to act and address the situation swiftly but discreetly, resulting in actions that included Simon stepping down from his position of CEO," Scavengers said. "The Solertia report revealed that the absence of clear communication from management as to the steps taken created the perception that nothing was done or that the allegations were not taken seriously. This was not the case. However, the lack of communication in regards to management's actions following the allegations is regrettable."
Scavengers employees had said that after the party, the studio adopted a new policy cutting back on alcohol at company events and eventually held a meeting to clarify its sexual harassment policy, during which they described Darveau as "being like a teenager in the audience" and "laughing and riffing on whatever the sexual harassment policies were."
"The details of what happened and the disciplinary actions taken were not communicated to the team until recently when allegations were made in the media," the studio said today. "It should have been done so at the time of the events, to reinforce the company's values by sharing clearly with everyone the consequences of this type of behaviour. Instead, the lack of transparency created an atmosphere of uncertainty. This was not a small mistake." [Emphasis in original.]
When contacted by GamesIndustry.biz before the publication of the original article, Scavengers said parts of the story were "false, somewhat blown out of proportion or lacking important pieces," but declined to specify which parts, citing privacy concerns. Two days after the article was published, Scavengers suspended Darveau and Lamarche stepped down from the CEO role temporarily pending the outcome of the investigation.
Lamarche has been reinstated as CEO, while Darveau has been conditionally reinstated into "a smaller, non-managerial role, prototyping a research and development project."
"I appreciate the courage of current and former employees who have come forward to share their experiences of their time at the company," Lamarche said.
"It's understandable that because the management and systems in place appeared to fail, people raised the issue through the press. While there's no version of this event where everyone would have agreed on everything, had I been forthcoming at the time, a lot of pain could have been avoided."