A former Rockstar staffer has come out with some serious claims, stating that he was the victim of sexual assault by one of the studio's heads back in 2014.
Colin Bundschu, who was new to the design team when the alleged incident occurred, has accused former Rockstar president of production development, Jeronimo Barrera, of groping him at a nightclub and later asking him to dance in his lap.
Barrera left Rockstar last December, after a 20-year-stint with the company. The former exec is said to have had a reputation of being aggressive and was always keen on threatening to fire and actually firing employees whenever it suited him.
Bundschu recently told Kotaku that he was groped by Barrera at a nightclub during a work social, also claiming that Barrera tried getting him drunk.
via Rockstargames.com“When I finished my drink, he’d make me another immediately, say, ‘Here, here, keep drinking,’” Bundschu recalled. “He was actively encouraging me to drink. It was not like I was sitting there helping myself.”
He claims to have only had three drinks and can remember what happened quite clearly.
“He stands up and comes up to me, and I don’t know how to say it other than he starts aggressively groping me,” he continued. “Out of the blue. There was no warning, no anything; he just goes for it. I just freaked… It felt like an eternity, but it couldn’t have been more than a couple of minutes.”
Bundschu says that, after the groping, Barrera sat down, spread his legs and signaled for him to come sit on his lap.
“I’m thinking, ‘What are my options?’” he explained. “A) I get fired if I don’t do something, and B) he either wants me to grope him, which I’m not f***ing doing, or C) maybe I can do something differently. I’m like, ‘Okay, well, I can probably just give him basically a lap dance without touching him,’ which is what I did… I know it sounds terrible, but what do you do? F***, it was like, I’d just started. I’d given up so much for this job.”
The incident was reported to Rockstar, with Barrera initially claiming to not remember what had happened before denying it outright. There were other colleagues present when the alleged acts took place, but no one came forward.
“Given that your allegations could not be substantiated, the remedial action against Jeronimo that you appear to seek is not warranted,” he was told after a probe. However, he was invited to a sitdown with Barrera and other company heads to iron things out, something he refused.
Bundschu left Rockstar the following year and claims it was as a result of his emotional scarring. He went to Oculus to work as an engineer for a year, but he says the incident prompted him to quit the video game industry altogether.
Other Rockstar employees who were in contact with Kotaku over the matter say they wouldn't consult or trust the studio's HR division to deal with any serious issues and would also not behave negatively for fear of being blacklisted.
One claims that the nightclub incident went around the office as a joke, but no one ever confirmed whether or not it actually happened.