Capcom says it has banned Noel Brown, a prominent Street Fighter and Marvel vs. Capcom player, from competing in Capcom Pro Tour events for the remainder of the 2016 season. Brown's ban, Capcom says, comes after a sexual harassment incident that was caught on camera at last weekend's Combo Breaker tournament in St. Charles, Illinois.
This weekend, Brown was seen groping a female attendee of Combo Breaker — an incident she reportedly described as unwanted to tournament organizers — after a group photo was taken. That footage circulated throughout the fighting game community, with calls for Brown to be banned for his behavior.
In a statement, Capcom said it instituted the ban on Brown in an effort to "provide safe, inviting environments where the focus is on healthy competition and exciting rivalries." Here's the company's full statement:
Over the past weekend, we were notified that an unfortunate case of sexual harassment occurred at Combo Breaker 2016, a Capcom Pro Tour Ranking Event, where a female attendee received unwarranted and unwanted contact from a male attendee, who is confirmed to be Noel Brown. This incident was also captured on camera during the live stream before the Street Fighter V Losers Finals match.
We have worked closely with the tournament organizer 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.
As a result, we are banning Noel Brown from competing in the duration of the 2016 season of the Capcom Pro Tour as a first offense. A second offense will result in a lifetime ban from participating in all future Capcom Pro Tour events. We will use this as a baseline penalty if similar incidents occur in the future.
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.
We support Combo Breaker's decision to ban Noel Brown and support any tournament organizer who decides to ban anyone from their event who they feel is creating a hostile environment for other attendees.
Tournament organizers for Combo Breaker 2016 issued a similar ban on Brown earlier this week.
On May 29 at Combo Breaker 2016, an incident occurred where a female attendee was groped by a male attendee, confirmed to be Noel Brown. This incident was caught on film, and 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 behavior. 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.
Harassment will continue to have a zero tolerance policy at Combo Breaker events. Be considerate and respectful of all attendees.
Brown is also banned from this year's Evolution Championship Series, better known as Evo. Tournament co-founder Joey Cuellar confirmed in an email to Polygon that Brown's behavior at Combo Breaker means he won't be allowed to attend the premier fighting game tournament.
"Evo stands behind Capcom's decision to ban any player responsible for acts of harassment," Cuellar said. "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."
Brown posted a statement of his own on Facebook earlier this week, downplaying the assault. He has since removed the Facebook post, though a cache of Brown's statement can be seen on Google. Here's a portion of Brown's statement:
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 but despite what comes of this I still want the truth to be out there. The below screen shots are of the said "victim" (even though she clearly says it wasn't a big deal) and I texting. I know the monsters will some how find a way to turn this around and I understand that. Like I said, the truth just needs to out there.
Brown is notorious in the fighting game community for his behavior at competitions. He was arrested for assault in 2013 at a tournament in Orlando, Florida, and was apparently caught on camera assaulting another player in 2011.